The gender pay gap will not close for 57 years

New research suggests it will take two generations for women to achieve pay parity with men.

Working women face a 57-year wait before they are paid the same as their male colleagues, according to new research.

The study, by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), shows that female managers' pay rose by 2.8 per cent in the past 12 months, while male managers' pay rose by 2.3 per cent. However, women on average earned £10,000 less than their male counterparts. If change continues at this rate, it will take 57 years for the gap to close.

The findings, from more than 43,000 employees across 200 organisations, show that male pay exceeds female pay by as much as 24 per cent at senior level. Even at a junior level, male employees earned roughly £1,000 more than their female peers.

It's a depressing state of affairs. The pay gap exists throughout Europe, but is worse than average in the UK: women are paid 79 per cent of male rates, while the EU average is 82 per cent.

How can this process be speeded up? The key is greater transparency: forcing companies to release details of the salaries they pay to men and women, shaming them into equalising, or at the very least, justifying the discrepancy. In part, the UK's gender pay gap persists because of the culture of secrecy around salaries: women might not know that they are being underpaid.

However, when Harriet Harman suggested full gender pay audits in 2008, she was met with outrage. The controversial Equality Bill eventually passed this year, in watered-down form -- giving government the right to force through full gender pay audits by 2013 if sufficient statistical information has not been given voluntarily.

David Cameron pledged last month to keep parts of the bill, saying that where there was "evidence of unfairness", firms would be forced to do a full audit. But it is expected to be mandatory only if employers are found guilty of sex discrimination at a tribunal.

As the bill was passed, the then Labour MP Vera Baird said: "The bill will work only if it is driven and pressed through society." She was right. Given the Conservatives' response to the Equality Bill, which is lukewarm at best and, on the right wing of the party, vehemently antagonistic, it seems unlikely that the legislation will be enforced. Fifty-seven years it is, then.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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