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The slow process of closing the gender pay gap

Female graduates are earning less than their male counterparts, even in sectors that are predominately female based

In an age in which gender equality in the workplace has never been more prevalent, it is astonishing to learn that the gender pay gap is still very much in existence and that it may take more than 50 years for it to close altogether.

Analysis carried out by consultancy Deloitte reveals that female graduates are earning less than their male counterparts, even in sectors that are predominately female based. Healthcare, for example, is usually dominated by female graduates and their starting salaries can be up to 14 per cent less than men. The salaries for men not only start higher but also the gap in wages continues to widen over the years.

While the Equal Pay Act implemented in 1970 has brought the pay gap down significantly over the years – it currently stands at 9.4 per cent for full-time employees, which is the lowest on record – the progress of enforcing complete equality is very slow; in fact, it is so slow that the gap is not expected to be completely closed until 2069 – almost a full century after the act was first brought in.

Working towards progress is important; however, for many of today’s working women, the ultimate change will come too late. Many of these women will have retired by the time the gap has completely closed, so why are such archaic practices still existent in today’s economy?

Experts believe that much of this is due to the jobs with which women tend to align themselves, such as care professions, which are generally lower paid. They are also more likely to take time out for family reasons and return to part-time or lower-paid roles. Research has shown than the pay gaps in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) roles are a lot smaller; therefore, encouraging women not only to study but also to actively seek long-term jobs in these areas is one way to enable them to earn as much as men from the beginning of their career.

Factors concerning flexible hours, affordable childcare and paternity leave for fathers may be called into question when looking at ways to close the gap. New government legislation will also encourage major brands to divulge their pay gap information to the public and consequently bring about much-needed change for the working women of the country.

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