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Gender pay gap contributing to productivity problem

The gender pay gap represents a significant loss to productivity, according to research by the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC).

The gender pay gap is the difference in hourly pay rates between the average man and woman in both full and part-time employment. Currently the gap stands at 19.2%. The gender pay gap does not measure the difference paid to men and women in the same or broadly equivalent roles. The WEC has highlighted a number of key causes of the current gap:

  • the part-time pay penalty (41% of female workers are part-time compared to 21% of men)
  • women’s inconsistent responsibility for childcare
  • unpaid caring
  • concentration of women in industries associated with low pay and low progression.

The pay gap has remained at roughly the same level for the past 4 years, falling from 27.5% in 1997. Women aged over 40 have been the most effected by the gender pay gap, while women aged 50-59 are facing a 27% disparity in pay. 

The WEC also found:

  • men and women sharing childcare is an effective policy lever in reducing the gender pay gap
  • women trapped in low paid part-time work below their skill level resulted to pay disparities, contributing to skill costs up to 2% GDP (around £36 billion).

Chair of the committee, Maria Miller, MP, said:

"The gender pay gap is holding back women and that isn’t going to change unless the government changes its policies now.

“If the government is serious about long-term, sustainable growth it must invest in tackling the root causes of the gender pay gap. Adopting our recommendations would be a significant step towards achieving the goal of eliminating the gender pay gap within a generation."

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