Sunday, March 08, 2015

Women still have it tough

Women’s average wages are down 6 per cent, making them more than £20 a week worse off in real terms than they were in 2008. Those working part-time earn 38 per cent less per hour than their male colleagues. Underemployment is an issue for many women workers, with a 41 per cent rise in those wanting to work longer hours. Women “make up the majority of those paid less than the living wage and more women than ever before are in part-time work because they can’t find full-time work”, the report says. Women account for more than half of those working in temporary jobs or on zero-hours contracts

Women and their families “have faced the worst squeeze on real income since Victorian times as pay has not kept pace with the rising cost of living”, states the report, by the Trades Union Congress.

Record numbers of women are in work, but many are pensioners forced to work and self-employed people in low-paid jobs, while others struggle to get enough hours to make ends meet. About half of the net growth in women’s employment since the crash has come from self-employment. The number of women working beyond retirement age has almost doubled since 2007, according to the report.

There is a “dearth of high-quality, well-paid jobs for women”, the report warns. “Most of the net growth in women’s employment has been in low-skilled and low-paying sectors. While younger women are facing underemployment and struggling to find sufficient work, older women are unable to reduce their hours to accommodate caring responsibilities and are working for longer than ever before,” it says.

The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Across the age spectrum, women are facing real hardships. Many starting their careers cannot find enough hours to get by and an increasing number are having to postpone retirement because they cannot afford to stop working.”

Women’s income worldwide will lag behind men’s for another 70 years if the pay gap continues to shrink at its current snail pace, a report by the UN warns. “Despite marginal progress, we have years, even decades, to go until women enjoy the same rights and benefits as men at work,” said chief of the gender, equality and diversity branch of the ILO, Shauna Olney. Twenty years after 189 countries adopted a blueprint to achieve equality for women, not a single country has reached gender parity and equality, the head of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said.

Worldwide, women on average earn 77 percent of the amount earned by men. Women with children can expect to earn even less than childless women when they return to work, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). The pay gap has only improved by 3 percent in the past 20 years. In December, the UN body said that despite women in Europe being better educated or working harder than men, they are paid substantially less. It claimed the gender pay gap in Europe ranges from about €100 to €700 per month.

 In the UK, men still earn on average 19.1 percent more than women and female MPs make up less than a quarter of parliament. British women are particularly badly hit, according to the report’s authors, because the “welfare state of the UK emphasizes individual freedom, and provisions of daycare and after-school facilities enabling mothers to work full-time are lacking.” An analysis from 2005 showing that women with two children in the UK can expect to earn 25 percent less than a childless woman. Mothers were more likely to take career breaks, switch to part-time work, choose jobs which are usually lower paying to be able to balance work and family and miss out on promotions, said Kristen Sobeck, an economist at the ILO.

A new survey by consulting firm Target Point shows that women who were awarded promotions at the White House earned an average raise of 18.5 percent. That’s nearly six percent less than the average raise for male staffers, who received increases of around 24.4 percent. Additionally, the research stated that five more men received promotions than women, to the tune of 46-41.
"The data clearly reveal that it’s not just salary for which there are significant differences between men and women, but also raises, promotions, and turnover," Target Point Senior Vice President Alex Lundry told Forbes. "Empirically, this White House does not treat their male and female employees the same." Late last year, the American Enterprise Institute also found that female members of Obama’s staff are paid 88 cents for every $1 paid to men. Last week when the Washington Post reported that the White House wage gap between genders is currently 13 percent – the same as it was back in 2009. The average male salary is at $88,600, while the average pay for female staffers is $78,400. The Post found that more men have higher-paying, senior jobs, while women tended to hold lower-paying, junior positions.


Data from the National Women’s Law Center shows that across the United States there is a wage gap of 23.5 percent, while the numbers vary from state to state. Washington, DC has the lowest gap at 9.9 percent, but several states sport wage gaps over 30 percent – Wyoming's, in particular, is at 36.2 percent.


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