Each week Computing and Computer Weekly rehash old material about how important it is to get more women working in IT and how terrible it is that there is unfair treatment in the workplace. I’m sure there is unfair treatment in many workplaces, although I’ve been fortunate enough never to experience any. And reading about it on a weekly basis only makes it sound boring and repetitive and not really a ‘news’ story at all. Things tend to become less scandalous if we are overexposed to them.
So, it was interesting to read some actual, real figures about how big a problem this is (in the UK).
A new Institute of Directors survey shows female executives in Britain are paid up to 26% less than their male counterparts. According to the survey, the boardroom gender pay gap has widened over the last year from 19% to 22%. This is higher than the difference across the workforce as a whole, which the government puts at 17%.
In the service and voluntary sectors it was as high as 26% with the average salary for a woman in the sector set at £56,933 compared with £70,657 for a man. The report shows that a female director in the service sector earns an average of £57,000 compared with more than £70,000 for her male colleagues.
One area where the gap has been closing is the financial services sector, where the IoD found a 9% difference in pay between genders, down from 14% last year and 35% in 2005. According to law firm Kingsley Napley, “commentators” have put the change down to an investment in ‘diversity’ projects. Whatever that means. I’d rather work for a company that employs and promotes me because I’m good at my job, rather than because I’m a woman.
A separate study by the Office for National Statistics claimed that the gender wage gap across the whole workforce narrowed by 0.3% over the past 12 months, with the pay difference closing from 17.5% to 17.2%. So maybe things are looking up, after all.
Or maybe not. Research published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency suggested that among graduates the gender pay gap is apparent from the start of their careers. Male graduates are earning £1,000 a year more than their female contemporaries.
Doesn’t all this just highlight that when you reduce men and women down to numbers, you lose some of the picture? Yes, we want equal pay for equal work. That goes without saying. Three stories about how awful it all is (plus all those pieces in Computing and Computer Weekly), and no one talking about what concrete actions they are taking to address the gaps. Now that would be a real news story.