Ladies, it's our own fault we're paid less

1 September 2011

So we’ve got another century to wait before women achieve pay parity with men.

That figure comes from a survey by the Chartered Management Institute, which showed that the average female executive earns £10,546 less than her male counterparts. Add to that the fact that women’s pay is growing at a rate of 2.4% ­– 0.3% faster than men, and you come up with the magic number that says it will take 98 years to close the gap.

Read: Women face 100 year wait for equal pay

Obviously, this is ludicrous. Pay growth will fluctuate, attitudes will change - after all 100 years ago the idea of a female executive was unthinkable - and the world will move forward. It won’t take 98 years for that pay gap to close – but it isn’t going to close anytime soon unless the issue gets pushed.

So, back to the here and now and that £10,546 gap. We all know that pay is unequal between the sexes, but I for one didn’t realise the gap was that big. Put that in terms of annual pay and while men are getting paid year round women pretty much stop getting paid at the start of November. Look around your office ladies, you’re putting in eight weeks’ unpaid effort compared to that man at the desk next to you.

So why the split?

So why hasn’t this corporate sexism been stamped out? As much as I believe there are changes to be made in the business world – an equal split on parental leave for a start would eliminate the prejudice against female workers of child-bearing age – I also think women have to recognise their own failings in the matter. Don’t let the sisterhood strike me down, but there is still a gender pay gap because we allow it.

We can’t really blame governments as a comparison around the world shows that equal pay is a problem in most developed nations. From conservative America to liberal Scandinavia, women get paid less than men. So what can we do?

If we want to speed up the process to equal pay we have to light a fire under the issue. We can’t just roll our eyes, mutter about sexism and – let’s be fair – assume it’s not us who are being paid unfairly, it’s wider womankind. The chances are you are being paid less than your male equivalent. And that’s not necessarily the fault of your bosses.

When you were offered your current job did you happily accept it? Were you so grateful and thrilled that someone had recognised your talents that you quickly signed on the dotted line? Guess what, the chances are your male colleague didn’t.

Surveys have shown that when men are offered a job they start haggling the salary, usually successfully meaning they start off earning more than women who just accept the salary they are offered. The only person to blame for that, I’m afraid, is the woman. I know it’s awkward ladies but we have to be more proactive about our pay.

We all need to learn to value our skills and talents more and be prepared to fight to get the pay our assets deserve. If we start fighting on an individual level to get the pay we deserve, that pay gap will soon start shrinking.

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