The Ladies in Property Suffolk was a fantastic opportunity to meet some key players in Suffolk, and be part of a networking group designed to support women in business in the region. It was particularly interesting as one of my students is currently writing their dissertation on the need to women-only business networking events, in collaboration with Suffolk County Council.
My presentation was, loosely, on gender stereotyping in Higher Education, and considered the use of social media in challenging those stereotypes. #ILookLikeAProfessor (among other #ILookLike’s) is an important movement on Twitter which highlights the importance of women (as well as other groups) in celebrating their professional and academic achievements.
In the course of my research for this talk, I looked into the discrepancies in pay between men and women, and found the 2015 Equal Pay Day data: the 9th of November. Effectively, from Monday the 9th of November, women started working for free until 2016.
According to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings by the Office for National Statistics, the pay gap for men and women working full-time is 14.2%. At the current rate of progress it will take over 50 years to close the gap.
The imbalance between male and female senior academics and professors was also profound, and with that comes the obvious difference in salary. According to HESA figures for 2013/14, there were just 6,450 women in these roles compared to 19,435 men.
For me, however, there were more startling figures. In the Higher Education sector, the gender ration within manual roles was fairly even. In contrast, there was almost three times the number of women working in clerical roles than men. This led me to take this research further.
In 2010, around 3½ million employees aged 22 to retirement were paid less than £7 per hour. Two-thirds were women and one-third were men…. In all occupations, the proportion of men paid less than £7 per hour was lower than that for women. So, gender pay inequalities are not just because women work in more lowly occupations.
Research also showed that in 2015 professional women make 198% more than unskilled women; for men, this pay gap is 45%, leading some to argue that ‘Feminism has failed working class women.’
Just today, I read that ‘the number of female billionaires increases seven-fold in 20 years.’ Women still trail behind men by a long way, but they are outpacing men for membership to this exclusive club.
My takeaway from this? Women are catching up at the top, but still lagging far behind at the bottom. We need to do more to educate girls and young women, to ensure that they don’t get left behind in the low-skilled, low-wage jobs while we aim for the lofty heights of an equal share in running the FTSE 500 companies. Feminists (women and men) should be building an equal partnership that includes everyone from the bottom to the top, otherwise we risk never reaching our goal of equal pay.