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24th September 2016

UK: Gender pay gap to remain until 2069

The gender pay gap in the UK will not close until 2069 based on current salary progression, according to research by accountancy firm Deloitte.

 

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Deloitte's analysis shows that the difference in hourly pay gap between men and women is closing at a rate of just 2.5 pence per annum. For certain occupations such as skilled trades and education, the gap is actually widening. Even in female-dominated occupations – such as teaching and caring – men receive considerably higher average pay. At this rate, the gender pay gap will not close for another 53 years.

Significantly, however, the gap in starting salaries between men and women who have studied Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, and who go on to take jobs in these sectors, is far smaller. There is no difference in the median starting salary between men and women who studied engineering, technology, medicine and dentistry.

Women currently make up just 14 percent of employees working in STEM occupations in the UK, and data from the Labour Market Survey shows that as many as 70 percent of women with STEM qualifications are not working in STEM-related industries. Raising this participation rate would give women a more balanced portfolio of skills and narrow the gender pay gap.

"There are many factors that contribute to the gender pay gap," said Emma Codd, Managing Partner for Talent at Deloitte. "One of these occurs before entering the workforce, when boys and girls decide what to study at school and university. Starting at GCSE level, where three times more boys than girls take computing and 50 percent more boys than girls study design and technology, these early decisions drive fundamental skill differences between the genders for those entering the workplace. The trend is likely to continue, unless it is addressed now."

 

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"We know that the pay gap is far smaller for those women starting their careers in STEM related roles," said Codd. "We also know that high-skilled jobs demanding a blend of cognitive, social and technical skills are typically among the most highly-paid. Therefore, if more women study STEM subjects and pursue related careers, they will increase their earnings potential in the early years of their working lives and – should they remain in their careers – the later ones. This in turn should serve to reduce the gender pay gap."

Emma Codd concludes: "More must be done to encourage girls from an early age to understand the impact that their choice of studies can have on their career options; girls must be encouraged to consider a full range of STEM career options and to have access to role models who can provide an insight into such careers. Similarly, with many of those women who study STEM subjects opting for careers in non-STEM professions, businesses in STEM related professions must show that they can offer attractive career options for women. Without these efforts, businesses – and the economy as a whole – will miss out on a hugely valuable pool of potential talent."

"While educators and policy makers will need to focus on tackling this challenge, the impact that employers can make should not be under-estimated. Whether it is providing educators and policymakers with practical insights into career requirements, giving students access to mentors in the STEM professions, or ensuring that the workplace is an environment where women can build successful careers, each business has a part to play. A great deal of progress has been made in the past half century, but we should not wait another 53 years for full parity."

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