Written by: Valerie Hazelrig
Depressing news for career women. A recent study by the Chartered Management Institute has discovered that men still earn more than their female counterparts, even when they do identical jobs.
Despite 40 years of legislation demanding equality and equal pay in the workplace, it seems not much has changed. New research shows that women earn around £140,000 less per year than men doing an identical job. And chances are, women are still expected to make more cups of tea too, but that’s just speculation.
In the salary race, women start off quite well at junior level, leading men by £989 per year . They also make up around 64% of staff.
But, by middle management, women have fallen far behind, in terms of representation and salary. Female middle managers can expect to receive around £1800 less per year, and women also fill less than 44% of positions.
Enter the boardroom, and that difference is even more pronounced. At director level, women are earning around £15,600 less per annum. And men far outnumber women at this level – about 24% of employees are female.
So what’s going on at the top levels? Why do women make up such a small proportion of the top positions?
According to a recent Harvard study, women aspire less to top jobs than men. This could be because women have fewer successful role models, and also because mothers may lack confidence going back into the workplace after having kids. Also, it seems that young women are less likely to go for promotions, and with possible good reasons.
According to the World Economic Forum, senior workplaces are testosterone-fuelled and macho, and this is the most common barrier to females climbing the career ladder. And it’s nothing to do with stilettos.
But it doesn’t have to be like this – females are needed in the workplace to fuel future generations, and we all know that women are just as competent as men.
How to negotiate a better salary
If you’re a female applying for a job, it’s time to be proactive. Ask how your salary compares against male colleagues’. Make sure you do your homework before you enter into pay negotiations, and prepare to stand your ground, and list all the reasons why you deserve an equal salary to your male counterparts. Negotiation is an expected part of the employment process, so don’t be afraid to ask for more when it comes to the crunch.
Don’t take a pinch on the bum with a pinch of salt
And it’s not just lower salaries women can expect in the workplace. Disrespectful comments, and sexual harassment can make a job a misery, but it’s not always black and white. The boundary between rude jokes, ribald behaviour and true sexual harassment is not always clear. If you think you’re a victim, keep an accurate diary of remarks and copies of emails. Then choose the right time to discuss the matter with either your manager or colleague. Tell your story in three parts – firstly, say what you think is inappropriate, then how it makes you feel, and thirdly, how you would like things to change for the better.
It’s still a tough world for women who want to do well in business, but don’t let that put you off asking for that extra cash, or putting in for that promotion. To end with, here’s one of my favourite quotes, which wraps up the sexual discrimination argument quite neatly:
“Sure, Fred Astaire was great, but Ginger Rogers did everything he did, but backwards, and in high heels.”