POLITICS
10/11/2017 00:02 GMT

It Will Be Another 100 Years Before The Gender Pay Gap Is Closed, Experts Say

Progress has stalled in the last three years.

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Women march for equality in London in the wake of the 2016 US election result.

It will be another century before women get paid the same as men, experts say.

The Fawcett Society, which lobbies for women’s rights, has used Equal Pay Day on Friday November 10 to highlight the fact progress in closing the gender pay gap has stalled in the last three years.

Since 2015, men have earned an average 14.1% more than women and if change continues at the same rate as that seen in the last five years, it will take another 100 years before the figure is brought down to 0%.

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society chief executive, said: “The pay gap is widest for older women as it grows over our working lives but we are now seeing a widening of the pay gap for younger women too, which suggests we are going backwards, and that is extremely worrying.

“At a time when we are breaking the taboo of talking about sexual harassment in the workplace, we need to wake up to the fact that a culture which tolerates or even fosters sexual harassment isn’t going to pay women properly either, and we know that younger women are particularly likely to experience harassment.”

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TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady wants the government to escalate action to close the gender pay gap.

Figures show the gap is wider for women in their 50s, at 18.6%, but has also significantly grown among women in their 20s – from 1.1% in 2011 to 5.5% this year.

The gap is highest in London (20.7%), followed by the south east at 16.3%. It is lowest in Wales, at 8.3%, and the north east at 10.2%, and higher in the private sector than the public sector. 

Women are also almost twice as likely to receive the lowest pay – with 221,000 women earning less than the statutory minimum wage - 100,000 more women than men.

Female BBC presenters spoke of their shock earlier this year after the broadcaster published its own pay figures, revealing some male employees were paid more than women for doing the same job.

The Fawcett Society wants all employers to use Equal Pay Day to make a pledge to close the gap within their organisations, to speed up change and end discriminatory cultures.

Smethers added: “Employers with 250 staff or more need to review their pay systems and publish their gender pay gaps, with a clear action plan in place to close it.

“All employers need to take a long hard look at their workplace culture.  Discrimination and sexual harassment can be hidden and more common than they think.  Proactive steps are needed to root it out and give women confidence to report it.

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Theresa May says she is committed to closing the gender pay gap.

“Government should require employers to make every job a flexible working job, unless there is a good business reason not to.  We also want to see a longer, more generous period of paid leave for fathers. This will help to address the unequal impact of caring roles which is one of the key drivers of the gap.

“For the lowest paid we need to see the Real Living Wage adopted as the minimum wage in all our workplaces. A growing number of women are trapped in the lowest paid work.”

Theresa May wants more companies to publish their pay data and take steps to help women progress through the ranks of management, ensuring better female representation at senior levels.

But TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “actions, not words” were needed from the government and said ministers need to do more to pile the pressure on businesses to speed up the rate of change.