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.

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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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