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Despite the introduction of the Equal Pay Act 45 years ago, women still earn far less than men do, with the current overall pay gap pay 13.9%. For many, this is the clearest example of equality for women. In this post, we take a look at the causes of the problem and analyse why it might be getting worse.

The Causes of the Gender Pay Gap

There are four main causes of the gender pay gap. These are: discrimination, unequal caring responsibilities, a divided labour market and men in senior roles. Let’s take a look at each in more detail.


It’s illegal to pay a woman less than a man if they’re doing the same job, but it still happens in some workplaces.

This appears to be especially true when women return from having babies, and studies show that 54,000 women are forced to leave their job early every year as a result of poor treatment after they have a baby.

Unequal Caring Responsibilities

Generally speaking, women pay a greater role in caring for their children as well as other relatives. As a result, some women find part time work more attractive, and these don’t have as many career progression opportunities.

Due to this, the pay gap between men and women with children widens even further. Women in their forties also find that, once they’ve returned to work after having a child, the men they used to work alongside have been promoted ahead of them.

Divided Labour Markets

Feminised sectors of the workforce are usually less well paid than masculine ones, and women make up 60% of people who earn less than the living wage.

As part of this, they’re more likely to be in low paid and low skilled jobs. 80% of people in low paid care and the leisure centre sector are women. However, in contrast, only 10% of people in better skilled trades are female.

Men Dominating Senior Roles

Men continue to make up the majority of senior roles in businesses; particularly in FTSE 100 companies where there are only five female CEOs.

Why Do Women Get Paid Less?

It appears we can finally bust the myth that women are paid less because they do not ask for more money. Research shows that women are statistically as likely as men to ask for a pay rise, but they’re less likely to get one.

As a result, some professors believe that the gender pay gap does amount to “pure discrimination”, with the problem getting worse, not better.

How Are Women Avoiding it?

Many women are navigating the gender pay gap by starting their own businesses; with many putting the recruitment of talented women at the heart of their business’s philosophy.

In doing so, they’re circumventing cultural norms and putting one of the greatest moral issues of our time into the spotlight.

Others are bolstering their earnings in other ways, such as investing in bonds or being savvy with their savings. These shrewd investments then act as a form of ‘top up’ for their earnings.

In the background, work is also being done by the government and other organisations. Back in 2015, the government consulted on proposals that requires firms with over 250 employees to publish their pay gap.

Elsewhere, pressure groups such as the Fawcett Society continue to push the government and other bodies, and the European Union Justice Department have also started creating policies, including Equal Pay Day.

Work is being done to overcome the gender pay gap, but there’s still a long way to go.

Written by Marcus Turner Jones