Not only have women got the glass ceiling to contend with, it seems we've also got the "sticky floor."
A poll published yesterday by ComRes found that female apprentices make an average of £4.82, compared with an average of £5.58 per hour for men. This means that a young female apprentice working 35 hours a week will be almost £2,000 worse off after a year's work.
The poll, commissioned by the Young Women's Trust, which "supports and represents over one million women aged 16-30 trapped by low pay or no pay and facing a life of poverty," aimed to prove that the gender pay gap is not something that only exists in the boardroom.
The research shows that young women undertaking apprenticeships were also more likely to report inadequate training. Almost 25 per cent of young women said they had received no training outside of work, compared to 12 per cent of young men.
Women were also less likely to be offered employment upon completing their apprenticeships; just 6 per cent of men were left unemployed, compared to 16 per cent of women.
One possible reason for this is that women are paid less in apprenticeships that dominate poorly paid sectors e.g. healthcare, administration and retail, while men dominate engineering, electrotechnology and the automotive sector.
It seems that both women are channelled very early into a narrower range of stereotypically gendered opportunities; women make up less than 2 per cent of construction apprentices, and less than 4 per cent of engineering apprentices, whilst a staggering 96 percent of childcare apprentices and 90 per cent of hairdressing apprentices are female (source). Female apprentices may also feel restricted to sectors that offer flexible apprenticeships, allowing them to look after children or undertake other caring responibilities.
Apprenticeships have rightly come to be seen as a desirable alternative to higher education for many young people, especially since the rise in tuition fees to £9000 per year. The current situation of rewarding men more than women sends a damaging signal that women's work is less useful. Sectors that offer apprenticeships should be urgently looking to remedy this.