Some good news for women in the UK in worrying times

December 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Some good news today from the Office for National Statistics. The UK pay gap between what men get paid and what women get paid has narrowed  at the fastest rate in more than ten years.

This comes in a worrying time for women in the UK. Not only are the budgetary cuts predicted to hit women much harder than men, but this week the Fawcett Society also lost its attempt to challenge the Budget in court for discriminating unfairly against women (see my earlier posts on this).

This is despite Karon Monaghan QC, the Fawcett Society’s barrister, saying in court yesterday taht spending cuts were having a ‘grossly disproportionate and devastating’ impact on women. Of the £8.1bn in savings identified in the Budget, £5.7bn or 72%, were being borne by women, compared to 28% by men, she said.  

The Equality and Human Rights Commission will now carry out a separate assessment of the equality impacts of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

So in the light of this it’s good to hear that the pay gap in average salaries has fallen from 17% in 1997 to 10%  in 2010.

It’s still 10% too much, of course, and pessimists will point out that 7% in 13 years is not a galloping change. If it continues at the same rate then it will be 2023 before the pay difference is down to only 3%. The Trade Union Congress has warned that the UK cuts are likely to set back this progress too on closing the pay gap.

 But let’s mark this as an achievement for women in business, and celebrate the gradual roll of the ball in the right direction.

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