Will The Gender Pay Gap Last Until 2069?

A shocking new report produced by the accountancy firm Deloitte has revealed that the gender pay gap between men and women could last until 2069 due to the gap continually widening yet only decreasing at a rate of 2.5p per year. This means the current £1.30 average difference in hourly rates will not close until the year 2069. This will be almost a century after the 1970 the Equal Pay Act was first introduced to assist equal pay between the genders.

Although the pay gap is now at a record low, the current gap finds female employees paid at a rate of 9.4% behind their male colleagues. This discrepancy in pay is often in place from the moment women enter the workplace, as nine out of ten of the most popular graduate careers see men paid a higher starting salary over women.

Deloitte bases its analysis on official figures and data sourced from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, which records that the health sector ranks as a large pay gap offender as female employees experience a 14% pay gap of around £4,000. Female graduates receive an £24,000 average wage as a starting salary for health care positions while men get £28,000.

The report produced no evidence to support the notion that a pay gap exits in regards to graduate salaries for careers within STEM industries (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). These industries generally offer a balanced salary between men and women, although women make up only 14.4% of the workforce in these sectors.

There are a significantly lower number of female graduates seeking work in these sectors, and disappointingly 70% of female graduates who possess a STEM qualification are not actively working in industries that correspond to subject of their degree. The Deloitte report is urging UK schools and businesses to encourage young women to study for degrees that can lead to a career in which the pay gap is lower, especially within STEM related roles.

The Fawcett Society’s Head of Policy, Jemima Olchawski, feels the continuing low level of skilled female workers employed in STEM roles is having a negative effect on the whole UK workforce: “At the current rate of progress young women starting work today will have retired by the time we close the gender pay gap. None of us can afford to wait that long”.

The report’s findings have already provoked strong reactions from leading Trade Union members. Frances O’ Grady, the General Secretary of TUC, sees the Deloitte analysis as part of wide-reaching government mistakes that fail to correctly assist women in the workplace: “We need action on the pay and quality of part-time work, flexible work opportunities, affordable childcare, and more independent paid leave for fathers”.