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  • Polly Lord

UK Gender Gap Continues To Widen

Research published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has shown that the UK has slipped down to 26thin the rankings of its Global Gender Gap Report. The report measures four key categories, economic, education, health and politics, although the decline has been attributed to a significantly low score in “economic participation”. This includes ratios of women in the workforce, wage equality for similar work by men and the number of women in senior roles.

The WEF commented that this;

“appears to remain some way off, with the country ranking 48th in terms of both labour force participation and wage equality and 66th for estimated earned income…Unlike many of its peers, it has still yet to close its educational attainment and health and survival gaps (ranking 32 and 94 respectively), while it does moderately better in the fourth area we measure, political empowerment, where it ranks 33rd.”

Experts appear to conclude that the reason for this is ultimately down to childcare arrangements. As Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute stated;

“The issue in the UK is that while there are more women in the workplace they tend to be in the lower-level positions. The pay gaps continue to be alarmingly large for men and women doing the same senior role.”

Further, Spencer Thompson, a senior economic analyst at the think tank IPPR, highlighted that France and UK spend more on childcare but through transferring cash to parents as opposed to the Nordic countries, which fared much better in the WEF report, who provided it free at the point of use/subsidised.

In the UK, we have access to Employment Tribunal procedures to ensure that equality, in principle, can be guaranteed in pay. However, as the WEF report shows, one of the key issues is the mobility of women through the ranks of employment to gain access to the more senior, and better paid, positions. The question is not an easy one. While it is clear that men and women should receive the same wage for the same work done, employers, particularly small ones, are deterred from employing women who are more likely to take a career break. While gender equality is vital in a just democracy, in employment law it cannot be considered in isolation from parental rights. Clearly, however, the current system is failing.

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