Even today, certain areas of industry tend to be dominated by and favour male employees.
Although some may not be aware, it is actually illegal to pay a woman less for doing the same job as a man. However, in a recent study conducted by gender inequality charity the Fawcett Society, it was found that “53% of women questioned and 47% of men said that they would be uncomfortable telling a colleague how much they earn.” The study also uncovered, that “60% of workers said that they were unaware that they have a legal right to speak to colleagues about how much they get paid if they think they are being discriminated against because of their gender.”
In addition, the Office for National Statistics has reported that the average gender pay gap for women working full-time is still above 13% across the UK. Luckily, there have been efforts to address this imbalance. The UK government has brought in legislation that requires any company with more than 250 employees to publish reports each year, showing how large the pay gap is between their male and female employees.
Last November, minister for women and equalities, Penny Mordaunt, also announced that her department was launching an initiative to “help marginalised, low paid and unskilled women to maximise their potential in the workplace.” This will include a £600,000 fund to “help women who are especially vulnerable, to return to work when they are ready”. It is designed to support those who have experienced homelessness, domestic abuse and mental health problems in particular.
There have been shifts in the world of education, too, with more girls than boys choosing to study science subjects at A-Level for the first time ever. According to The Guardian, “Jill Duffy of the OCR exam board said the shift – a 10 percentage point change compared with 2012 – was the result of years of effort to get over some of the stereotypes girls might have had about studying science.”
In the business sphere, more and more women are entering the boardroom and the companies are becoming more successful as a result. Forbes recently reported that nearly “a third of global S&P 500 boards now include three or more women. What’s more, the ratio of companies with three or more women on the board has grown from 19% in 2015 to 29% in 2018.” These may feel like small steps, and we may still have a long way to go as a society towards true equality – however, there is more hope than ever before.
Through education and hard work from both men and women, real gender equality in the workplace will become a reality.