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Gender pay gap almost gone for millennials

02/03/2017

​The gender pay gap - the difference between the average hourly pay for men and women - has almost disappeared for professionals in their 20s, according to new research.

However, as women progress through their career and get into their 30s, the gap widens again.

Research conducted by think tank the Resolution Foundation found that the gender pay gap has halved during the past generation and men and women are now starting their careers off at almost even pay.

This shows that millennials - those born between 1980 and 2000 - are having a fairer chance in the workplace, compared to the generations before them. When “baby boomers”, which the foundation defines as being born in the two decades after World War II, were working in their 20s, the gender pay gap was 16 per cent. Similarly, “generation X” - born between 1966 and 1980, had a nine per cent difference in hourly wages between men and women.

The gap now stands at five per cent for millennials, which is largely caused by a growing number of women in higher education, alongside the wider introduction of equalities laws and rights when going on maternity leave.

This, according to Laura Gardiner, a senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, is leading to more women being in higher paying jobs.

With people in their 20s being on a more even footing, some have suggested that this will follow them through their career and the gender pay gap will continue to decline for older professionals.

However, the Resolution Foundation analysis points to potential further problems for women in the workplace.

The research found that when millennials become 30 years old, the gap rises to nine per cent, which is only slightly lower than Generation X professionals at the same age. This sudden change is largely put down to the disparage of starting a family on the average earnings of men and women.

Ms Gardiner said high childcare costs mean that many women take up part-time work once they have a family, making progression and training much harder to access.

A separate study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed that women earn about ten per cent less on average at the point they have their first child. This then widens to 33 per cent by the time the child reaches 12 years old and, less than ten years later, women will have been paid four years fewer than men, on average. When just full-time workers were taken into consideration, women are paid for nine fewer years, according to the IFS study.

It is hoped that the introduction of shared parental leave will go some way to improve gender equality in the workplace as it allows new parents to share 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of statutory pay after their baby arrives.

However, many sectors experience considerable problems when it comes to having a diverse workplace and getting women into high-paying roles.

The 'How Times Have Changed: CEO Gender Gap Analysis of the S&P 500' report from S&P Capital IQ at the end of 2015 found that the total number of female CEOs declined in 2015 and the average growth rate sees just one new female CEO every two years.

It also revealed the IT sector to have the most female CEOs, while Energy, Materials and Telecoms companies in the S&P 500 didn't have any and women in these positions had shorter tenures than men in the same role.

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