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Putting men on the moon easier than women's equal pay?

 April 30, 2013

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One of the above was achieved and, despite legislation like the Equal Pay Act of 1970, women are still being discriminated against when it comes to pay.

The fight for equal pay has been on-going for centuries. Dating back to the 1800s, female textile workers in Scotland went on strike to receive equal wages. Women's suffrage continued to champion the cause for equal remuneration. Two World Wars emphasised the value of female labour, but women were still not paid the same as men.

Fast forward to the modern day and, although there have been significant improvements in the area of equal pay between the sexes, there is clearly a long way to go. Women, on average, get paid 15 percent less than men. Very recently, the UK's High Court awarded 174 women equal pay compensation against a local authority - for paying them less than their male co-workers.

Numerous studies have been undertaken to identify why women get paid less than men. Choosing to enter professions that are less lucrative, showing an inability (or unwillingness) to negotiate and taking career breaks for child-rearing are some of the reasons offered for the equality gap.

The above reasons do not minimise a woman's contribution to her job. The High Court's decision to provide compensation to the 174 women should result in employers rethinking discriminatory pay practices. This is bolstered by the proviso of the Equalities Act 2010, that an employer cannot enforce confidentiality obligations in relation  to pay disclosure. This tackles the code of silence in relation to discussions about pay. However, a setback for progress is the reversal of the requirement in the Equalities Act that companies disclose the disparity between men and women's pay. A concession is that equal pay audits will be carried out on firms that lose sexual discrimination cases.

For all the advancements that have been made in technology, the basic concept of fairness in relation to gender pay is yet to be grasped. There should be no plausible reason why women continue to earn less than men. When true equality in gender pay occurs, we can truly say 'that's one step for women, one giant leap for mankind'.

The author of this blog is Karan Y. Johnson from www.writeandgood.com

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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.


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