Harriet Harman, the Equalities Minister, has been talking about the Equalities Bill. In particular she has been talking about the gender pay gap. In my ignorance I thought the gender pay gap referred to the difference between what a woman was paid for a job and what a man is paid for doing the same job. It seems I am wrong. This is what the Office for National Statistics has to say "The gender pay gap refers to the difference between the hourly earnings of men and women. It is determined by calculating women's overall average pay as a percentage of men's." It is that second sentence that is new to me. It is a comparison of average pay.
Let us assume that there is a computer software department that consists of
2 project leaders, one male and one female both earning £65,000;10 developers, 8 male and 2 female all earning £50,000 and2 ladies in charge of configuration management cum software building who earn £30,000. In this department the mean male wage is £51,666.66 whilst the female average is £45,000. The median wages are the same at £50,000. If a junior programmer was taken on at a wage of £25,000 the females' average would reduce to £41,666.66 and the median to £40,000.
With the median value in particular you can see that the lower value occurs because there are more women in the lower paid jobs. Is this what you thought of when you heard of the gender pay gap? Me neither.
Is it wrong that there are more women in the lower paid jobs than men or that there are more men than women in higher paid jobs? Do we need legislation to correct it? I don't know at the moment so I will go away and ponder it. Do let me know what you think.