Friday, September 09, 2005

unequal pay...

in a big way...

if there was only one way to demonstrate that the oppression of women is still alive and well this is it...

According to the Guardian - thirty years after equal pay legislation was introduced, women still earn almost a fifth (18%) less than their male counterparts. This gap widens to 40% for part-time workers. Even recent women graduates, after five years in employment, earn 15% less than men who have the same qualifications.

Lady Prosser, the chair of the Work and Women Commission, set up last summer, will outline the progress made to date next week.

Unions are hoping for a "gender equality duty" imposed on employers, mandatory pay audits to identify disparities and time off for union equality officers in the workplace.

Prosser blames three factors sustaining the gender pay gap: "part-time working, occupational segregation and women's labour market issues, such as childcare, which act as barriers to women's chances of entering and progressing in the workplace."

This makes great sense in the wider context of the inequalities (outlined this week's in the government's follow up to the Black Report of 1980). As Alex Scott-Samuel says - "There has been a lot of rhetoric [on health inequalities], especially since Labour first came in, but we now see that these are not working. Material factors still underlie inequality ... income inequalities are still at the same level as in the 1980s."

Prosser believes "the solutions lay in longer-term changes, such as ending the job segregation that sees women tied to traditionally low paid jobs".

I agree with Lady Prossers view of the three main causes, and that the solution needs to be wider than legal changes. The social divide is as great as ever. There has to be a total culture shift and that includes our own attitudes as women to our value. Many of us have internalised the oppression so that we believe that men should earn more as the "breadwinners" and we don't speak up enough.

I know that voluntary agreements to equalise pay don't work. I will be disappointed if none of the unions expectations are met.

1 comment:

yclepta said...

Not specifically about gender divisions - but just read that the poorest fifth of the people (who pay a higher proportion in tax) give 3% of their income to charity while the richest fifth (who pay proportionately less tax) donate only 1%.
Interesting eh?
Women are also the most likely people to volunteer for free....and do all that unpaid social and health care work known as "caring".
Talk about inequalities!