The release by the BBC of salary figures for their employees who earn more than £150,000 showed a yawning gap between the salaries earned by women and those earned by men. The top seven highest paid presenters are all male. The top male earns between ₤2.2m and ₤2.25m whereas the top woman earns between ₤450,000 and ₤499,999.
This pay gap is of course not limited to the high earners in the BBC. The gender pay gap in the UK overall is 18.1%. Stuff, a New Zealand online news outlet, reported that the New Zealand Ministry for Women has released research results that show that the gender pay gap in New Zealand has remained at 12% for a decade and and the cause of it is mostly down to bias, perception and attitude. In Australia the national gender pay gap is currently 16.0% and has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past two decades. In the US, Labor Department data show women earned about 82 cents for every dollar a man made in 2016.
Pay is, of course, not the only area where there is gender inequality. The Observer reported that ‘while women are rising in the ranks in all professions, at the top, in every sphere, they remain a minority, an isolated femocracy. Inequality is better camouflaged today than 10 or 20 years ago, but it’s still rampant.’
In New Zealand only one of the 50 S&P/NZX50 index of the largest companies has a woman CEO This lone woman is Kate McKenzie, the CEO of Chorus. When she was interviewed by the NZ Herald Ms McKenzie pointed out that we need to think about the attitudes that cause this situation, and what needs to change. She said that a lot of it is about trying to suspend your prejudices; that we all like to recruit in our own image.
I have seen this tendency of men to appoint other men who are similar to them in many of the organisations I have worked for. I currently work in a unit where the only female team leader has just left. In her interview which I’ll post next week, she talks about the frustration of being the only woman in the management group and the difficulties of getting a female viewpoint over in such an environment.
The reverse of the lack of women in senior positions is the predominance of women in lower status poorly paid work such as cleaners, factory workers and carers.
So what should be done to reduce this inequality? I believe that to start with there needs to be increased education for women, more child care facilities, and a change in attitude towards who is responsible for child care. And there must be a change in attitude, particularly on the part of men, towards the idea of women as leaders, managers, directors, CEOs. How we go about getting such a change in attitude is the question.
Please leave your suggestions in the comments section below so that we can collect everyone’s ideas and start being proactive about solving this problem.