Equal Pay Day: The day women start working for free

At a time when gender equality should be improving, the gender pay gap appears to be widening. Figures released to mark today’s Equal Pay Day show the gap for women in their 20s has widened to become five times bigger than it was six years ago. 

Equal Pay Day: The day women start working for free

When women at Ford Motor Company stood up and walked out of the factory in 1968 after being told that they were to be paid 15% less than the men, they were the catalyst for the passing of the Equal Pay Act. That was 1970. You would assume that the pay rate between men and women would be equal by now, but women are still on average earning less than men.

Equal Pay Day has been set up to draw attention to the gulf that still exists in the wages of men and women, hinging on the #EqualPayDay hashtag. It marks the day – 10 November – when a women on an average wage stops being paid, compared to an average male counterpart. It reflects the time in the year when women start to effectively give their labour away for free. 

The gender pay gap is so present that the Fawcett Society is now suggesting that it will take 100 years before the gulf closes and both men and women receive equal pay. Using data from the Office for National Statistics, the Fawcett Society notes that the gender pay gap for women in their 20s is 5.5%, with this rising to a monstrous 18.6% for women in their 50s.

Discrimination also exists for women with caring responsibilities. As the the Fawcett Society notes, women who continue to look after children, the sick, or the elderly are more likely to work part-time which is often paid poorly, with women at age 42 facing a motherhood pay gap of 11%. Fathers, on the other hand, receive a “daddy pay bonus” of 21%.

The gender pay gap was highlighted most prominently this year when the BBC released the pay rate for all of their presenters. The corporation revealed that two-thirds of the organisation’s stars earning more than £150,000 were male. The highest earning female presenter, Claudia Winkelman, made £450,000-£500,000 last year. This is in stark contrast to the highest earning male presenter, Chris Evans. The gap is evident, Evans earned between £2.2 million and £2.25 million.

If you support #PayEqualityDay and believe that women should not receive less than their male counterparts, the Fawcett Society is urging policy makers, employers and individuals to print off a pay wage slip, write a pledge on it, and tweet a picture of you holding the slip with the hashtag #PayGapPledge.

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