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The gender pay gap

A belated happy new year to all WITsend readers – I hope the January blues are over now we’ve reached February!

Every year we say “a new year, a new start!” And in this case: “a new decade, a new start”. Let’s hope that’s the case when it comes to the dreaded gender pay gap. But results from a survey by silicon.com indicate that instead of the situation improving, the difference between the pay of men and women in IT is getting bigger.

Just take a look at this graph – the results are quite striking:

gender-pay.jpg

Far more women than men are in low paid jobs with the majority (35%) earning less than £25,000 a year, compared to just 14% of men. And interestingly whereas the number of women in this pay bracket has risen since 2008, the number of men has decreased. When it comes to salaries in excess of £40,000 the number of men far exceed the number of women – with the amount of men earning top bucks outnumbering women by more than 2:1.

When it came to bonuses, although more women than men took home extra cash in 2009, men received higher amounts. 65% of women who received bonuses got less than £5000 compared to 47% of men and 10% of the males had bonuses of over £20,001, whereas the number of women receiving that reward was: zero.

It always comes back to the same question: why? The main answer seems to be that many women put their career progression on hold due to family commitments, leaving the top jobs open for the men. The huge difference between maternity and paternity leave allowances doesn’t help this situation either (although that looks like it may change). But it’s not just the women that are missing out here – businesses need the input of women, especially at senior level.

Remote working, schemes to help women back into work after maternity leave, mentoring – these are all practices businesses should be looking at so that we can change the look of the graph above and have more women at the top of IT. As I said before, it’s a new decade – let’s hope it signals a new start!

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Maggie, you are right to ask why? And both the equalities review in 2007 and 2010 found that the one things that affected women's careers more than any other factor was become a parent!

You are also right that current legislation and many organisational policies only serve to reinforce perceived gender difference.

Only when men are seen as equal partners in parenting will women be seen as equals at work.

Many dads want to play their part but are held back by onesided policies favouring women and the economic reality that means it is often more cost effective for the mother to take time out. And so the viscious cycle continues with frustration on both sides.

So how can employers engage parents who represent at least 70% of the workforce, and enable them all to reach their potential?

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