Burt and Swinson comment on gender pay gap report

The Resolution Foundation today published research into the gender pay gap which shows that it has fallen to just 5% for women in their 20s but that there is still a huge lifetime deficit for women. They said:

Looking at women’s early careers, the analysis finds that baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1965) experienced a pay gap of 16 per cent during their 20s. That gap fell to 9 per cent for women in generation X (born between 1966 and 1980) and then to 5 per cent for millennials (born between 1981 and 2000).

However, despite this progress in the early career phase, the gender pay gap continues to rise rapidly for women in their 30s and 40s. Among baby boomers the gender pay gap rose from 21 per cent at the age of 30 to 34 per cent by the age of 40, after which it started to fall. For generation X the pay gap increased from 10 per cent at age 30 to 25 per cent by the age of 40.

The gender pay gap for millennials rises steeply to 9 per cent when they hit 30, only very marginally lower than the gap for generation X-ers at the same age. This suggests that the old challenges associated with having children endure for young women today, says the Foundation.

Liberal Democrat Equalities spokesperson Lorely Burt said:

While there is welcome progress for younger women, the same old problem rears its head when babies come along and women’s talents and contributions in the workforce are reduced or lost altogether.

In Government, Liberal Democrats pushed through requirements for large businesses to publish their gender pay gap despite strong resistance from the Conservatives.

We need to build on this with a requirement for companies to publish their plans for childcare, flexible working and other ways of encouraging women to develop their careers and enjoy parenthood at the same time.

The Government says it wants to use all the talents in this country – let it put forward policies to make this possible through quality, affordable childcare for all.

Former Lib Dem Equalities minister Jo Swinson, who introduced the requirements for companies to report their gender pay gap,  was on the Today programme this morning. You can listen to the discussion here at around 1 hour 50 minutes in.

She talked about how shocking it was that young women just going into the workplace still only earn 95p for every pound that a man earns when they have often been out-performing men at school and university. She says that there is no reasonable excuse for what can often be unconscious discrimination at this stage.

She then went on to talk about the legal, economic and cultural barriers that stop men playing their full role as fathers.

She pointed out that every year 54,000 women were forced out of their jobs because of maternity or pregnancy discrimination, so it’s not a matter of choice.

She added that part time employees should not earn less per hour than their full time colleagues.



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  • Chris Bertram 5th Jan '17 - 11:23am

    Be very careful here. It’s *not* so much a pay gap issue, as a lifetime *earnings* gap. It is illegal to pay men and women differently for work of the same value, and instances of this happening should be prosecuted. But the gap arises through career and lifestyle choices, which vary across the sexes, and of course maternity is one major cause of career breaks that will affect women but not men (though greater allowances for paternity leave would help to even that up).

    If we want to close the gap, we should be looking at encouraging women (and especially young women making their choices of what to study) to opt for careers that pay more, as at the present time they are overrepresented in the lower-paid “caring” professions, and underrepresented in the higher-paid technical professions. And more women tend to work part-time than men.

    Finally where glass ceilings exist, means need to be found to shatter them too. But please don’t suggest artificial means of addressing imbalances – positive discrimination for one person is negative discrimination for another, and businesses will rightly resent being forced to make employment choices that they perceive as being disadvantageous for their future.

  • Jenny Barnes 5th Jan '17 - 5:12pm

    Long term, reprodction is not a personal choice. Not if we want people to still exist in 100 years. Arguably, it’s the most important thing anyone can do, so why are women effectively punished for it?

  • Ruth Bright 5th Jan '17 - 6:06pm

    Chris Bertram – rather than encourage our daughters away from poorly paid “caring” jobs perhaps we should campaign for those jobs to be paid at a decent rate so they can pursue such careers with dignity.

    Care assistants are typically paid £7.20 an hour (£6.95 if they are under 25) but Dominos Pizza pay £10 an hour!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 5th Jan '17 - 6:33pm


    Excellent comment. The work women do based on the work women actually want to choose , or whatever responsible options chosen needs to be encouraged.The tone of the article bothers me. Emphasis from good sensible Liberal Democrats that overdo the material , and the career seen in those ways above all.

    Negative singling out of the five pence in pound pay gap , rather than extraordinarily positive levels of gender pay equality.

    Five pence in the pound gaps is not the answer to the question. Value is more than monetary.We need to value people .

    The new feminism , or call it humanitarianism, should put the valuing of girls and women , and boys and men , as friends and lovers and colleagues and professionals ahead of money .

    Then we would celebrate the joy of having a woman in the workplace get pregnant, and help her and her family , to raise her own child with dignity and humanity in work or out .

  • David Evans 5th Jan '17 - 6:52pm

    Ruth – Are you sure? If so, for what job?

    According to Glassdoor.co.uk

    Domino’s Hourly Pay
    Job Title Domino’s Salary
    Customer Service Representative £5.65/hr
    Delivery Driver £6.97/hr
    Pizza Delivery Driver £7.07/hr
    Instore £5.41/hr

  • Chris Bertram 5th Jan '17 - 6:59pm

    @Ruth Bright – a laudable aim, but in the end it’s the market that will be the main influence on relative pay differentials, and if care assistants are easier to find than power engineers, then it’s the engineers who get paid more. Not to forget that the skills required to be a good engineer take longer to acquire than those of the care assistant. But women can become engineers too, so why aren’t they studying for the qualifications?

  • @ Chris Bertram “a laudable aim, but in the end it’s the market that will be the main influence on relative pay differentials”.

    So that’s it then, is it ? The market red in tooth and claw. Adam Smith and Jeremy Bentham rule ! The only consolation being that Bentham’s stuffed body, plus his mummified head, is sitting safely (I hope) in a cupboard at UCL.

    Radical politics have moved on a bit since 1790 and 1832, Chris.

    If we accept that the market is the sole determinant a la Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher – then we might as well pack up politics and all go home to watch telly.

  • Chris Bertram 5th Jan '17 - 7:56pm

    @David Evans – I said the *main* influence, implying that there can be others. We already have one, the minimum wage, without which you could bet that some low-skilled, easy to fill jobs would be paid somewhat less. Perhaps you could tell us which others you’d like to see? Venturing into the realms of heavy state regulation of pay rarely ends well, IME.

  • David Evans 5th Jan '17 - 9:41pm

    Chris – are you asking the wrong person? Did you mean my old mate David Raw?

  • I agree with Ruth Bright – “rather than encourage our daughters away from poorly paid “caring” jobs perhaps we should campaign for those jobs to be paid at a decent rate so they can pursue such careers with dignity.”

    However this does raise another question. Is there a greater labour pool for “caring jobs”? We are told that we have to recruit from abroad to provide the workers the UK needs to provide care in the NHS, in care homes and in people’s own homes. If the suppliers of these services couldn’t employ foreign workers, they would have to pay more to try to encourage people into these roles. However these are jobs funded by the state and to pay better wages would mean giving both the NHS and local government more money to pay better salaries.

    Another poorly paid role is teaching assistants (and I think the majority of those doing this job are women). So again government could allocate more money to pay better salaries.

  • Chris Bertram 6th Jan '17 - 8:39am

    @David Evans – sorry, my rubber fingers to blame. Calling David Raw …

  • Michael BG

    “However these are jobs funded by the state and to pay better wages would mean giving both the NHS and local government more money to pay better salaries.”

    Many caring jobs are not funded by the state – my mother-in-law pays over £600 a week for her residential care and many thousands of elderly house owners or those with savings are in the same situation. The company that runs her home are already struggling to survive, so any increase in staff wages just goes on the residents bill.

  • @ malc You’re dead right, malc.

    If ever there was an exploited workforce it’s the carers. A toxic mix of underfunded local authority contracts and (some) greedy privatised providers.

  • It is interesting to note the selective quite used by LDV in this article, I think this quote is more accurately convey’s the current position:

    “But while many millennial women haven’t experienced much of a pay gap yet, most probably will once they reach their 30s, when they start having children. What’s more this pay penalty is big and long-lasting, and remains for younger generations despite the progress in early careers.” Laura Gardiner, Senior Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation (see link in original article to access source).

    So here we have it, at one level we have largely resolved the pay gap: women are, in the main, being paid the same as men doing equivalent work. However, there are three big challenges. the first is career breaks, the second is addressing the poor pay of jobs seen as being more appropriate for women, and thirdly correctly making proper allowance for reproduction and the bringing up of children.

    With a person’s working life being extended to circa 50 years, career breaks will become more common (particularly among men) and thus we need to rethink the ‘yardstick’ currently being used of a job/career for life with one employer with a continually increasing rate of pay and pension pot.

    As Ruth Bright indicates some professions are poorly paid mainly because of the perception that they are “women’s work” – these stereotypes need to be challenged. Perhaps this may be assisted by employing some of the 50~70 year old’s who will be looking for a second career?

    Thirdly, as Jenny Barnes indicates, regardless of medical advances for the foreseeable future women will be having babies in the normal way. Thus as a society we have a duty of care to ensure that women (in the main) get long-term financial support. The question here is whether the support currently being provided through Child Benefit and it’s associated NI credits goes far enough. I think it doesn’t, but am unsure about how to enhance it in a meaningful way.

  • Chris Bertram 6th Jan '17 - 11:31am

    @Roland: “As Ruth Bright indicates some professions are poorly paid mainly because of the perception that they are “women’s work” – these stereotypes need to be challenged.”

    But is that actually true? I think it’s more because the jobs are low-skilled and relatively easy to fill, and frankly the managers of care homes won’t care one way or the other whether it’s men or women doing the work, if they do it well. If more women than men are employed in that sector, then it’s worth looking at the reasons why that is, but to assume automatically that someone has decided from on high that “women’s work” is worth less is very lazy and highly questionable.

  • Ruth Bright 6th Jan '17 - 11:58am

    Chris, I really agree with Roland that care work is paid badly because it is seen as women’s work (with the implicit 1970s style assumption that the woman’s earnings are the secondary family wage). I have very extensive experience of a. ordering pizzas b. working with people with dementia. The pizza deliverers are almost exclusively male and the people working with dementia are almost exclusively female.

    It is just plain wrong to see working with people with dementia as a low skill job – it takes years of training but mainly experience to “read” someone who has lost their conventional communications skills and uphold their wishes and dignity. Many care homes advertise their posts for months and find them very difficult to fill.

    Have checked the pay rates I quoted earlier they are correct where I live in Alton, Hampshire.

    PS to David Raw, is Jezza Bentham still there? How gross – time he and Lenin received a decent burial.

  • Chris re: “Women’s work”

    A while back in a response to one of my comments (https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-science-behind-diverse-shortlists-49821.html) Belinda Brooks-Gordon, recommend a book for my further reading. What has stayed with me isn’t the ‘magic’ 50% (ie. 50% of MP’s should be women, 50% of board positons should be filled by women etc.), but the magic of the 25%!

    Research strongly suggests that at the (circa) 25% mark, our perceptions begin to undergo a realignment. In the context of woman’s v man’s work, this means we begin to regard male midwife’s, for example, as the norm and not the exception they are now. I therefore, use the term “women’s work” to mean those jobs/professions/careers where over 75% of the practitioners are either currently women or perceived by society to be women.

  • @ Malc
    “my mother-in-law pays over £600 a week for her residential”.

    As I understand the rules there are two reasons why an elderly person would pay for their own residential care – firstly they have income or assets higher than level where residential care is paid for by the local authority, secondly they have chosen a care home where the rates are higher than those paid by the local authority. I think in such a situation the local authority pays nothing.

    If the local authority had more money to fund each residential place they could abolish these caps. I also understand that many residential care homes have had to close because they couldn’t exist as a private company making loses on the amounts paid by local authorities.

    @ Ruth Bright

    “Many care homes advertise their posts for months and find them very difficult to fill.”

    This could well be because the salaries have to be low to ensure that the care home can keep the rates they charge local authorities at that set by the local authority.

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