The gender pay gap is thankfully closing in. As with many social issues, however, despite improvements, it’s not close to being corrected just yet.
There are many misconceptions about how it got to be this way and how to solve the problem. There is also the problem that there are still many people who think that it doesn’t exist or is not as big a problem as it is. There is plenty of confusion about what the gender pay gap is but more awareness is being raised, especially with the new legislation that came into effect on the 4th April requiring companies with 250 or more employees to declare their gender pay gap. While that legislation gave accountability, it also showed how much work needs to be done.
As explained in this article by Emma Griffin, the perception that women’s work was less valuable has a long history. The reason that a woman has traditionally taken the man’s name in marriage is due to the notion that the woman was being transferred in care from the father to the husband. That is clearly outdated, but the legacy still remains. During Victorian times women’s work was seen as less valuable so therefore women had to rely on a man in order to live.
The situation is a lot better for women now, but it’s not good enough and won’t be until true equality is achieved. Sport is one area where the lines get blurry though, a survey by PlayOJO has shown that the opinion is very split on the reason there is such a gap in sport. The football gender pay gap is particularly alarming with the best women earning as much in a year as some males doing in just a few days.
Women’s football though doesn’t get the participation, same attendances, doesn’t get the same TV viewing figures and is often cited as not being of the same quality. This is where the gender pay gap’s historical perception can hold women back though. You have to ask the question of why? If women were given more opportunities to play professional football for a longer time, surely these points would be different. If women were allowed to play football as freely as men for as long, would these gaps in attendance and viewing figures exist?
If there is a gap in quality, then it could well be because women haven’t been given a chance to play professionally for as long. Should then the women today be penalized for the sexism of the past? Well, surely not, but football is one area where the gap is going to get close anytime soon. Sports like tennis have sought to end their pay gap but the difference is that tennis players get paid by the organizers, and not by clubs. People are generally paid for the value that they bring to their business, but if that business’ value is low due to historical sexism, then the women of today suffer.
In regular businesses the facts are much clearer. Two people should always get the same pay for doing the same job, but that still can affect successful women who want to find their way to a great job. At the basic level there needs to be equality and it’s easy to measure. As you go up the pyramid of a company, however, it seems more likely for male-led boardrooms to find ways to justify employing a male instead of a female, or paying a male more for a similar job.
Women have shown for long enough that the perceptions of the past are simply incorrect. If the gender pay gap is to truly end then the accountability from businesses has to increase, the new legislation has helped that, but further steps need to be made. Businesses need stricter legislation and also they and the general public need more education too.
The gender pay gap exists due to historical sexism, a time that should be left in the past. Unfortunately that past lingers on and is still affecting women today. Those Victorian times at the start of the industrial revolution left women trapped by an unfair society. Times have changed, but not quickly enough, and attitudes have to change before it ends for good.