If you're a woman living and working in the UK, there's a nine out of ten chance that you work in an industry that pays you less than men. Those are the latest findings from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), which advises the government on work policy.
According to Tuesday's report, titled "Opportunities and outcomes in education and work: Gender effects," women in full-time jobs pull in less money than their male counterparts in 90 percent of sectors. Those who work in financial or insurance jobs are the worst affected, earning almost 40 percent less.
Even in the few professions dominated by women, dudes still end up taking home higher wages. In education, where women make up two-thirds of the workforce, men earn on average £2 more an hour than their female colleagues. Dr. Vicki Belt, the assistant director of UKCES, described the new research as "[bringing] home the bleak reality of gender inequality at work in the UK."
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"Women outperform men at all stages of education—from GCSEs [junior high exams] through to the numbers gaining university degrees. However, once they get into work, on average they earn 19 percent less than men," said Aoife Ni Luanaigh, a senior research manager at UKCES. "The government is seeking to increase transparency around differences in pay between genders. However, these findings make it clear that employers also need to act to make sure they are creating opportunities which support both men and women to progress in their careers."
The depressing news is followed by a new survey from the Office of National Statistics, which found that the gender pay gap has changed "relatively little" in the past four years. The disparity between male and female wages for full-time employees decreased a minuscule 0.2 percent, from 9.6 percent to 9.4 percent over the last year. The overall gap for part-time and full-time workers has remained static at 19.2 percent.
Women are overrepresented in what is sometimes called the 5 Cs: cleaning, caring, cashiering, clerking, and catering.
"If you look at the employment profile, you find that men are overrepresented in one set of occupations concerned with money, management, and machinery," explained professor Diane Perrons, director of the Gender Institute at the London School of Economics. "Women are overrepresented in what is sometimes called the 5 Cs: cleaning, caring, cashiering, clerking, and catering."
"If you plot [this information] on a graph, with occupations on one dimension and pay on the other, you find that those occupations where men dominate are paid more," Perrons continued. "Occupations where women are overrepresented are paid less. Women are also disproportionately represented in low-level positions."
In the US, the wage gap is currently narrowing—women now make 82.9 percent of men's wages. However, a damning new report from the country's Economic Policy Institute, a left-of-center think tank, claims that this is not because women are making progress in the workplace. Instead, men's wages have shrunk disproportionately and overall inequality has grown.
British prime minister David Cameron has promised to wipe out the British pay gap "within a generation" and has brought in rules that will force large companies (ones with more than 250 employees) to disclose the pay gap in their workplaces.
The Fawcett Society, a women's rights and equality organization in the UK, has lobbied for urgent action to be taken to close the pay gap. Its recent campaign on Equal Pay Day highlighted the fact that British women have been essentially working for free since November 9, thanks to the disparity between male and female wages.
"At the current rate of progress, it will take 50 years to close the gender pay gap," a Fawcett Society spokesperson told Broadly. "Frankly, women are tired of waiting. We have to speed up the pace of change and take steps now that will mean we aren't still having this conversation by the time today's women graduates are retiring."
Perrons, who co-directed a publication on confronting gender equality in Britain, is much more pessimistic about change. "At the current rate, it will be the next century before the pay gap is narrowed," she said. "What is urgently needed is to tackle gender segregation in employment and reassess the value of work disproportionately done by women, and increase the wages in sectors where women are disproportionately represented—especially care work."
"And yet, what would you care about more: How your money is looked after—though obviously that matters—or your child or elderly granny? What would you save if you were in a sinking boat?"