26 November 2012
Over 40 years since the Equal Pay Act was introduced, on the whole, women in full time employment in Dundee are now earning around £3,500 a year less than their male counterparts.
The Office of National Statistics reveals that men in Dundee in full-time employment earn £23,288, women £19,740.
The difference between them is 15 per cent .
Ironically, the difference has declined slightly in the past year only because men’s pay fell further than women’s pay did.
In the UK 88 per cent of men employed work full time compared with 58 per cent of women
12 per cent of men work part-time compared with 42 per cent of women.
Such considerable differences establish the greater likelihood of women’s lower rates of pay.
Caring duties, lack of affordable childcare and a more limited choice of jobs than men have all converged to make gender pay differences an issue of lifetime consequences for women .
Women go into part-time employment to allow them to balance their work-life divide to raise a family or to care for elderly relatives.
Good quality high-earning part-time work is scarce, and thus careers are affected to a far greater degree than when men become fathers.
The TUC has demonstrated the gender inequality present in the unequal distribution of income and occupations.
The five highest earning careers are those of aircraft pilots, chief executives and directors of advertising and PR, marketing and sales, and telecommunications firms.
Such jobs are male-dominated with very few part time posts available.
At the other end of the earnings table are the lowest paid jobs where four of the five worst paid occupations – waiters and waitresses, bar staff, catering assistants and launderers
These are are overwhelmingly the realm of women and part-time work.
And in retirement the effect of gender pay differences still exerts its adverse influence with women likely to receive lower pensions.
This is why more women are at greater risk of an elderly life of poverty than men.
Equality at work between men and women has advantages not just for society but for the organisations and the companies involved.
They benefit in terms of the retention of good employees, a better work environment , better use of employees’ abilities and a better public “brand” image
Women’s work and skills can be undervalued and underused , attitudes that contribute to gender pay differences.
If we want gender equality to be a goal rather than a slogan much needs to be done, and if done, the advantages are potentially striking.
A European Union study undertaken in 2009 concluded that the elimination of gender gaps in employment in the EU member states could lead to a 15% - 45% increase in Gross Domestic Product.
The UK Government Women and Work Commission estimated that closing the gender pay gap would provide a £23 billion increase in GDP while the TUC estimates that the under-utilisation of women’s skills, partly due to the lack of suitable part-time work opportunities, costs the economy £11bn per year.
To those who say that we cannot afford to address these gender differences, the reply is that we cannot afford not to.