The Glass Ceiling

Following International Women’s day on the 8th of March, this week I wanted to discuss an ongoing battle between women and businesses.  An article entitled ‘Top-paid men outstrip women by 4 to 1, shock figures reveal’ which was published in The Guardian caught my eye. You can find the full article here.

This article notes how new data released by HMRC shows that there is still a huge disparity between the pay of male and female workers here in the UK. I find it amazing that this is still an issue. I would imagine if the original suffagettes could see us today, they would wonder what is taking us so long.

This data has been released just before large companies within the UK are required to publish their payrolls by gender. I’m not sure how much of a difference this will make to break the glass ceiling but it’s a step in the right direction.

As I discovered through research for my dissertation, and as previously mentioned in my first ever post for this site, ‘The Modern Slavery Act’ was put into UK law in 2015. This law states that companies must show transparency of their supply chains within their annual report. It was created as a way to highlight and hopefully put in motion an attempt to end modern day slavery. Despite this law being active, many companies have failed to adhear to it with no reprecussions. With this knowledge, I can’t say I have much faith in all companies complying to this new gendered payroll requitement. If the modern slavery act is anything to go by, there won’t be any consequences for not complying by the UK government.

I attended a talk at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative arts on the 28th of February entitled ‘Representing the People?’ The panel was made up of a number of women who have found success in their chosen career path. From director of the Tate; Maria Balshaw, to Catherine Mayer, author and co-founder of the Women’s equality party. The panel spoke a bit about their journeys to where they are now, along with their thoughts on the current state of equality.

The general consensus was that we are in ‘a period of extreme turbulance.’ And although the women discussed how they fear there may be backlash, they were hopeful that we may be in the middle of a feminist revolution.

An idea that was discussed during the talk was that gender inequality isn’t going to be solved solely by legislation that enforces ‘quotas.’ Or in other words, the idea that companies should be made to employ a certain amount of women. This is simply a fast track way to implement change, rather than really dealing with the issue. This idea is summed up well in the Guardian article on the pay gap:

“There are a number of factors – including better management of women, appropriate senior role models, and breaking down the gender bias – which need to be implemented,” – Brenda Trenowden, chair of the 30% Club, a group which campaigns for more women on company boards.

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