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Today is Equal Pay Day 2010. Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1970, full time working women on average are still paid less than full time working men by around 16%. This means, figuratively, that if the average man and woman both work a full year, the man gets paid for the full year whilst the woman’s last paycheck comes today.

Reasons for the paygap are complex and may differ from case to case, but include the following factors:

  • “women’s work” is undervalued compared with “men’s work” – so jobs of similar skills levels which are traditionally female (cleaning, caring) are paid less than similarly skilled jobs which are traditionally male (transportation, construction)
  • individual level direct and indirect discrimination still exists
  • women still pay a “motherhood penalty” in terms of career progression and salary
  • women are more likely to work part time, which is relatively undervalued by employers; and
  • the recession is making things worse – a higher proportion of the female workforce has been made redundant than the male workforce

The Fawcett Society is spearheading Equal Pay Day 2010, and is calling on the government to do three things to help:

  • Implement the Equalities Act 2010 in full, including forcing employers to reveal their gender pay gap if they haven’t done so by 2013
  • Extend the right to request flexible working to all employees (not just mothers) and work to change employer attitudes to part time and flexible working
  • Encourage shared parenting by promoting flexible parental leave

You can find out more about Equal Pay and how you can get involved at Fawcett’s website.