Equal Pay Day, which falls this year on Nov. 10, marks the point in the year that women in the UK essentially start working for free thanks to the gender pay gap.
It’s kind of staggering that this is still a problem in 2017, despite the Equal Pay Act being created in 1970. But the gender pay gap for full-time workers is still 14%.
And for older women, women who are black, Asian, or minority ethnic (BAME), women in certain sectors such as skilled trades, and women on higher earnings, the problem is even worse.
In theory, the day that Equal Pay Day falls on in the UK should be changing — getting later in the year as the pay gap decreases.
But the date hasn’t changed since 2015, and that’s because the pay gap hasn’t changed in the last three years. Which is why, across the UK, we have to keep pushing for significant action from government, businesses, and society in general.
There is no one reason that women are still earning less than their male colleagues, but some important factors include discrimination, undervaluing roles that are primarily occupied by women, the higher proportion of men in better paid positions, and unequal caring responsibilities.
But here are 8 reasons why we should keep fighting.
1. The Gender Pay Gap Is NOT a Myth
WANT TO WORK FOR FREE?!?! No didn’t think so. Today is #EqualPayDay the day women start working for free because of the #EqualPayGap! This is a global 🌍 problem! Proactive policy, legislation and transparency required for CHANGE! 👩🏽💼👩🏻⚕️👩🏿🏫👩🏼🔧👩🏾🔬 pic.twitter.com/KSkha7UD7r— DFID Inclusive (@DFID_Inclusive) November 10, 2017
For every pound that men earn, women are paid just 86p in the UK.
While some attribute the pay gap to women choosing flexible hours, engaging in more part-time work, leaving to care for children, or taking on other caregiving responsibilities, other studies show gender bias in hiring and salary still exist.
An experiment in the US, for example, saw CVs that were identical except for the gender of the applicant presented to a panel of professors. Female applicants were generally judged to be less competent, and less hireable. The professors were prepared to offer almost $4,000 more to the identical male applicant.
2. Londoners Should Be Particularly Angry
While the average wage gap in the UK stands at 14%, it varies dramatically depending on where you live.
For example, if you’re living in Wales you’re likely to have a more equal (although not actually equal…) wage — with a pay gap of around 8.3%. Other regions of the UK that offer better wage equality are the north east, at 10.2%, and Yorkshire and the Humber, at 10.8%.
But if you’re living in London, you’re looking at an average wage gap of 20.7%.
That’s largely because of the industries that are based in the capital — which are fairly male-dominated. For example, the wage gap in finance and insurance for the UK sits at 32.8%, according to campaign group the Fawcett Society.
For those with degrees, the pay gap is also higher than the average. In the UK, the full- and part-time gender pay gap for graduates 10 years after graduation is 23%.
3. BAME Women Should Be Even Angrier
Graduate women from ethnic minority backgrounds have been found to have lower pay three years after graduation than their white British peers, according to the Fawcett Society.
Research from the campaign group further found that women from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds have a 26.2% pay gap with white British men (including part- and full-time workers), and black African women have a 19.6% full-time pay gap with British white men.
4. The Pay Gap Is a Global Problem
Over 145 countries have documented a gender pay gap, according to the World Economic Forum. Its 2015 study addresses an important issue; what amounts to pay difference later in life is a direct consequence, in many cases, of differences in access to education and job opportunities earlier in life.
There are numerous examples of misogynistic legislation still in place around the world, including legal child marriages, unequal education opportunities, and justice systems that offer little rebuke to perpetrators of gender-based violence. Some 90% of countries worldwide are guilty of legally discriminating against women.
And world leaders, from the US to Bangladesh, are continuing to add to these gender-bias policies. In March, for example, US President Trump revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order, stripping women of protective measures in the workplace, like paycheque transparency, and arbitration on matters of sexual assault and discrimination.
5. Equal Pay for Women Can Help End Poverty
Eliminating the gender wage gap can add between $12 trillion and $28 trillion to global GDP by 2025. This is a serious incentive to equalise pay between men and women.
“Poverty is increasingly a problem of low pay rather than lack of employment,” according to a 2016 report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS). “The proportion of people in paid work is at a record high, and female employment has risen especially quickly, particularly among lone parents.”
It adds: “Two-thirds of children in poverty now live in a household with someone in paid work. In an age when the main challenge with respect to poverty alleviation is to boost incomes for those in work, and when so many more women are in work than in the past, understanding the gender wage gap is all the more important.”
6. Women Still Have to Choose Between Caregiving and Pay
Caregiving and having children should carry equal responsibility between genders, yet women still take on the bulk of these duties globally.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) estimates that 54,000 mothers every year are forced to leave their jobs early after they become pregnant.
Upon the arrival of a British couple’s first child, says the IFS, a serious and persistent difference between employment rates opens up. By the time the first child is 20 years old, women have on average been in paid work for four years less than men and have spent nine years less in paid work of more than 20 hours per week.
But in addition to taking time off for caregiving, the gender pay gap continues to discriminate when women return to work.
Taking time out of paid work is generally associated with lower wages when returning. For women who have left paid work, when they return their hourly wages are, on average, about 2% lower for each year they have taken out of employment.
For women with A-level qualifications, their wages are 4% lower per year that they have taken out of employment.
7. As Women Get Older, the Problem Gets Worse
As men and women grow older, the wage gap grows wider. The mean full-time gender pay gap is relatively small (but very much still present!) for those aged 18-21, at 6.6%, according to Fawcett Society research. But there’s a massive leap for women aged over 40, when the pay gap climbs to 17.1%. It is around this age that men’s wages continue to grow rapidly, particularly for the highly-educated, while women’s wages level out.
For those aged between 50 and 59, the wage gap continues climbing, to 18.6%. And by the time you’re over 60, it stands at 18.4%.
And that becomes even more of a problem when you bear in mind that women, on average, live longer than men.
8. Because of Annoying, Damaging Tweets Like These
#EqualPayDay— Bradley (@bradley_thunder) November 10, 2017
"But I want to spend time with my kids AND have a high paying career!"
Men have had to make this decision to support their wives for years.
It's WHY on average they earn more.
Now girls have to choose.
Men and women are different. They make different choices. they want different things. These choices have consequences. If we paid men and women the same on the mean average, women would be earning more than men. #EqualPayDay— Rational Man (@YojimbosGhost) November 10, 2017
Global Citizen campaigns to end discrimination against women around the world. You can join us by taking action here.