‘From 2017, any organisation that has 250 or more employees must publish and report specific figures about their gender pay gap’. Although the gender pay gap has reduced over the past few decades, the gap is still evident, which is a problem for every feminist ( and logical-thinking person) in the world.
The gender pay gap in 2018 was published earlier this month, and revealed gaping disparities between what men and women are paid in various large firms such as Apple, RyanAir, and JP Morgan. It made it clear that equal pay is something that we are still fighting for.
First though, I would like to clear up a few misconceptions about the gender pay gap. Many believe that this refers to cases where men and women are doing the exact same job, and where women are being paid less. As a result of this misunderstanding, some argue that there is no longer much of a gender pay gap since such things rarely happen now.
Although it is true that in most companies it would be difficult to successfully get away with paying a woman less than a man who is doing the exact same job, this regrettably still happens in certain sectors — show business being the most obvious example. One well-known instance of this was when Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams earned far less than their co-stars Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner on American Hustle. This should strike anyone who watched the film as odd, as they were both leading characters.
Further, even though this type of gender pay gap is limited to certain sectors nowadays, the pay gap is still a very big deal. Why? The real problem with the pay disparity between men and women is that men and women do not have the same roles. In the UK:
‘Companies with equal numbers of female and male directors, or with female-led boards, were rare at not quite 4%’.
It is clear that men still hold the foremost positions in companies — they are the directors, managers, CEOs — and so naturally, they are paid more than the women who are their subordinates.
The fact that men hold these high-ranking roles is not down to them being on average smarter than women. It is because people make certain decisions, such as not promoting women in their twenties, for fear that they will start having children and take maternity leave — something that is deemed damaging for the company. This is despite the fact that men can be fathers, with their own families, so one would think that there ought to be greater understanding.
It is inexcusable that women are missing out on promotions because men are predicting their future. Starting a family should not be a reason to ignore a woman’s potential because of her biological propensity towards childbirth. And we certainly should never force women to ‘act more like men’ in order for them to receive the same chances. Not having children (especially when there is a desire to) so that you can stay working for as long as your male counterparts does not make women more like men, since men are still able to have all the children they want.
When I was younger, I was strongly against positive discrimination. I wanted to achieve things because I was the best, so I could feel that I deserved them. I certainly did not want anything handed to me because I am female. However, I now see that to bridge this gap, positive discrimination is necessary. This of course does not mean that we should be giving women jobs they are not equipped to do, just to meet a certain quota. It means that if you need 90 per cent on a test to get the job, and a man gets 95 per cent while the woman gets 91 per cent — give that job to the woman. They are both capable of doing it well, they both achieved the requisite mark.
Apologies to the man who obtained the higher result, but this is something your male ancestors should have considered before helping to create the gap that we now have a duty to bridge.
Positive discrimination is needed. It can be a very useful strategy in bridging certain types of minority discriminatory gaps.