If you are a working woman, from today until the end of the year you will be effectively working for free. That sounds ridiculous and pay day still falls every month but it’s true, due to the ever present gender pay gap.
Just let that sink in.
The gender pay gap is currently 13.9%. For every £1 a male takes home, a female takes home only 81p. So for the final 50 days of the year, as I said woman are effectively working for free, and they are also effectively working without payment for 1 hour and 39 minutes of each day. Yes, this time last year the pay gap was at 14.5%, so there has been progress, but hold your applause. Do not celebrate this. According to a recent report from the financial consultancy firm Deloitte, at the current rate of progression the pay gap will take almost 53 more years to close.
At this point, it will have been 99 years since the implementation of the Equal Pay Act.
As a young person and a female in today’s society, I simply cannot sit back and let this happen. I will not accept the fact that it will take until I am almost retired and no longer working for me to be paid the same as a man for doing the same job, just because I am a woman. How is this at all fair?
Yes, I am a feminist. Yes, I believe in ‘girl power’, I like the Spice Girls and all that comes with that phrase. But in no way do I hold the view that woman should be given better treatment because they are superior to men. This is far from the truth. I remember that when I was younger I owned a book (which was pink, by the way) called ‘Girls Are Best’. At that age, I may have been swept up in a revolution and absolutely believed that girls were the better sex – in every single way. It’s not at all correct but the book itself was empowering, one thing which stuck with me was ‘it’s called his-tory, why can’t it be her-story?’ It was campaigning for equality and that is what I’m talking about here.
In the UK, we currently have a female prime minister. I’m not very familiar with Theresa May’s career, but I assume that as a woman, in particular a woman within politics which has generally been considerably male dominant, she could empathise with the issue at hand. This is why I am calling on Theresa May, or anyone who has the authority to do something about this, to make a change. I’m not stupid – I know the system is more complicated than that, but is it really that complicated? I know that we can’t click our fingers and woman are instantly paid the same as men, but when it comes down to it, surely the issue is not complex and up for debate? It’s equality.
I have talked about equal pay, and I feel very strongly about it. However, what worries me more than the pay itself is the reason why the gender pay gap still exists. I write essays in sociology about how the Equal Pay Act of 1970 has changed the world of work for women but have things really changed that much in the 46 years since then? We may say our attitudes have changed but our society is still stuck in the age old stereotype that men are the superior sex and women are just not quite as capable as them. Maybe this is why we still have the pay gap. Maybe people still believe that it is justified.
In the future, I want a career, and I am prepared to work for it. But I demand to begin on a level playing field. I cannot accept the fact that I will be paid a lesser amount of money than a man doing the same job as me, simply because of my gender.
Because my gender does not define my worth and I will not let it do so. I am so proud to be a girl but I am also a human being and human rights include equality, and this is still not apparent in today’s society.
I want to tell my children or grandchildren stories about when there used to be a gender pay gap and I want then to laugh at ‘silly old mummy or grandma and her funny made up stories’ because equal pay has been around for so long, there is no reason for them to think that there was ever any other way of living. At this rate of progression, it will most likely not happen and that makes me terribly sad.
Some incredibly brave, strong women fought hard for Equal Pay over 46 years ago now. It is an absolute embarrassment that today, they have still not truly been given it. I don’t want ‘progress’, I want equality.