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Gender Inequality in the UK - The Pay Gap

Whether you are Rebecca, Mary or Suzanne, it is frightening to say that you have diminishing chances to be in the top jobs in the UK in comparison with Mark, John and Nick.

These names may not be realistic, but the point is that women in today’s society are facing ‘segregation’ in the job market and this eliminates chances of equal opportunity. The difference in the pay gap is rising faster than ever and thus we witness men on average being paid more than women, yet on the whole, women achieve the same/more qualifications than men (Guardian Online).

Women are held back from the top posts in banks, finance and law. Inequality for women cannot be justified as women are equally as hard working and, to some extent, better qualified! The government also has not put as much pressure on businesses and firms as it needs to, as many MP’s are women too! Women are still less likely than men to be associated with leadership positions in the UK: they account for 22% of MPs and peers, 20% of university professors, 6.1% of FTSE 100 executive positions, and 3% of board chairpersons. The stats speak for themselves and here we see shocking news of women not being fully acknowledged in leadership roles  (BBC News Online).

Income inequality has risen faster in the UK than any other OCED country and today women earn on average £140,000 less than men over their working careers (Telegraph Online). This will have many negative impacts on families where the women are the sole earners. If you are a mother, your chances of getting the job are reduced by 70% (Al Jazeera English). Ridiculous stuff isn’t it? Research consistently shows that groups perform to a higher standard if the gender balance is even, or when women outnumber men. As a consequence, logically, you would think that for businesses to succeed; they would hire more female workers, but that isn’t the case. The Women’s Business Council predicts that we could add 10% (that is over £150bn) to our GDP by 2030 if all the women that wanted to work were employed (BBC News). Figures look great if women are granted these jobs.

What is the solution then? Well, looks like we have a difficult case here but the ways to go around it vary and depend on time. In the long term, encouraging women to participate in the labour market is vital to ensure economic growth in the market. Ageing population and lack of skilled workers puts more pressure on firms to hire ‘the right people’, so to lessen the burden on businesses as well as the government, hiring out female employees isn’t a bad idea! All in all, the government has a huge influence in these major decisions and we should put pressure on them for action rather than sit idle and wait for the next reaction. So: pressure, public and politics? Some words to think about.

References from BBC News, Telegraph, Guardian Online, Al Jazeera English.

Written by Saqlain A Choudry, 16, Tender Youth Board member and student at Mill Hill Independent School

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