Closing the gender pay gap means promotion and progression for women

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One hundred years ago, David Lloyd George took office as the first Prime Minister who was unequivocally in favour of votes for women. 

This summer another Prime Minister took office and pointed out another yawning disparity – what she described as a “burning injustice.” 

That, in Theresa May’s words: “If you’re a woman, you will earn less than a man.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has just published a report demonstrating how pernicious the gender pay gap is in today’s Britain. The IFS report covers the whole workforce and concluded:

  • The wage gap between men and women has reduced from 28% in 1996 to 18% now.
  • This is partly because more women are graduates. But the graduate pay gap has not narrowed. The balance has simply shifted so that women are found proportionately less in roles for the less well-educated, where the pay gap was even worse.
  • At over 30%, the pay gap for women with children over 11 years of age is much wider than for other women.
  • Partly that is because men do not tend to take as much time off for raising children as women do – and then women fall behind. They earn about 2% less for each year spent out of paid work. This rises to 4% per year out of paid work, for better-educated women.
  • Women with children tend to switch to part-time work. When they do this, their pay doesn’t necessarily drop – it stagnates. Part-time pay does not increase at the same rate as full-time.

At the same, another report - from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) - analysed the salary data of more than 60,000 UK managers and professionals. It said that the difference in promotion rates between men and women was one of the main causes of the gender pay gap. The CMI said the pay gap for managers was 23.1%.

The CMI found there were fewer women in executive positions than men. Women represent 73% of the entry and junior level workforce but comprise 42% of senior management and 32% of directors.

Mark Crail of XpertHR co-published CMI’s research. He said: 

“The gender pay gap is not primarily about men and women being paid differently for doing the same job. It’s much more about men being present in greater numbers than women the higher up the organisation you go.”

These findings bear out a report published earlier this year by Robert Half which put the gender pay gap at 25%. The Fawcett Society’s chief executive Sam Smethers was quoted:

“The gender pay gap widens for older women. The impact of having children means that as men’s careers take off, women’s often stagnate or decline. We have to make it easier for men to share care, create flexibility first at work and open up more senior roles as quality part-time jobs.”

The APM’s 2016 Salary and Market Trends survey revealed that the project management profession unfortunately shares these issues. 

Women earn less and fewer of them are at a senior level.

  • 67% of women earned less than £50,000 per annum compared to 40% of men
  • 23% of men earned over £75,000 as opposed to 8% of women
  • 11% of males earned over £100,000 against only 3% of women
  • Only 1% of women were classified as Project Directors or Board members as opposed to 4% of women.

Any profession, including project management, cannot afford the waste of talent – or overlook the inequity - which results from women being unable to return to the workforce or being underpaid if they do. 


Posted by Julian Smith on 31st Aug 2016

About the Author

Julian Smith was head of external affairs at APM.

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