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Women could take 40 years to close pay gender pay gap, says UCL study, but coronavirus could help them catch up

Wage parity for men and women could take 40 years at current rates of progress without major changes in childcare and flexible working

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Women at work

Women will take another 40 years to close the wage gap with men, according to groundbreaking research by UCL - but the coronavirus pandemic could help them catch up.

538prom精品视频在线播放The team of researchers who used data from Labour force surveys to track the gender pay from 1921 to the present day found the rate at which women in Britain were closing the gap has slowed in the past two decades to under 0.5 per cent a year.

With the raw wage gap for all employees standing at 17 per cent between men and women, that means it will take between 35 and 40 years at the current rate to achieve parity.

Professor Alex Bryson, who headed the Government-funded study, said a key factor was women continuing to take prime responsibility for childcare even in countries which had the most women-friendly workplaces such as Scandinavia.

This meant that despite overtaking men in the 1970s in higher education performance, the cut-out in their careers to bring up a family meant that they were earning far less than men, so widening the overall wage gap.

“Even in the most progressive parts of Europe, women take up the lion’s share of childcare. That translates into a lack of work experience that means their wages don’t look anything like the rate that we would expect it to be,” said Professor Bryson.

“Unless there is a change that enables women to be as present in the Labour market, you won’t see the wage gap closing as quickly as we might want it to.”

The research did, however, show that major societal changes - as happened in and after the Second World War - could have a dramatic impact, raising questions about whether an event as seismic as the coronavirus pandemic could fundamentally change attitudes to work to the benefit of women.

The gap in hourly pay among full-time manual workers closed by a dramatic 11 percentage points during World War Two - from 51 per cent in 1939 to 40 per cent in 1945.

538prom精品视频在线播放This was largely because women - many of whom had previously stayed at home to care for the children - were drafted into the workplace to help the war effort.

Professor Bryson speculated that the way covid pandemic has forced men to share the child care responsibilities could be "akin to a little tremor, a little social revolution."

At the same time, a shift to working remotely from home forced by the coronavirus lockdown and future social distancing restrictions in workplaces could benefit women who were now often penalised for seeking more flexible working schedules.

538prom精品视频在线播放Professor Bryson said it was noticeable that in professions like law where business was traditionally done face-to-face, there were fewer women in the upper echelons of the profession compared to those in lower, younger ranks - a feature largely fired by child care responsibilities.

"It may be that this will encourage employers to design their jobs in a way that they had not hitherto considered but have been shown can work during coronavirus," he added. The alternative was that businesses could lose the “potential” of women if they did not alter their practices. The research showed that younger women had made huge progress in closing the gap with men. While those born in 1958 were 16 percentage points behind men aged 23, it had fallen to nine per cent for those born a generation later in 1970.

Yet, the gap increased dramatically for both cohorts by the time the women were 42. For those born in 1958, it was 35 percentage points, and it was 31 percentage points for those born in 1970.

538prom精品视频在线播放Apart from the Second World War, the research showed the biggest closure in the wage gap was stimulated by the Equal Pay Act of 1976.

538prom精品视频在线播放In 1970, the Government put employers and unions on notice that they had six years to put men and women on an equal pay footing for the same jobs. That led to the gap reducing by 10 percentage points from 37 per cent to 27 per cent.

538prom精品视频在线播放The subsequent 42 years saw a slowing with the gap only being closed by 13 per cent, effectively a third of the rate inspired by the Equal Pay Act.

538prom精品视频在线播放Professor Bryson said it was still a mystery why the wage gap had slowed even more so in recent years. “There is a challenge there to people like me to explain it but there is also a challenge for policymakers about how we get that rate of convergence to move up again,” he said.

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