Five questions answered on the male/female pay gap

Women paid "significantly less".

A survey of 38,843 managers at the Chartered Management Institute found that women can expect to be paid significantly less than their male counterpart throughout their lifetime. We answer five questions of the survey’s findings.

 How big exactly is the pay gap between men and women?

Well, a man and woman working with an identical career path – starting as an executive role at 25 and rising up the career ladder until they are 60 – a man can expect to take home pre-tax totals of around £1,516,330, while a women can expect to take home pre-tax totals of £1,092,940.

That’s a lifetime earnings gap of £423,390 with the average yearly pay gap between men and women being £10,060.

Does this extend to bonuses, too?

Yes, according to the survey women receive less than half what men are awarded in bonuses. The average bonus for a male executive was £7,496, compared to £3,726 for a female executive.

How many executive women are there in the national workforce?

The survey found that there are 57 per cent of women in the executive workforce; at junior level there are 69 per cent but only 40 per cent of department heads are female and only 24 per cent are chief executives.

How have women been affected by recession job cuts?

More harshly than their male counterparts: between August 2011 and August 2012 4.3 per cent of female executives were made redundant, compared to 3.2 per cent of male executives. This is almost double since the last survey in 2011 when the figure stood at 2.2 percent.

This year’s survey found twice as many female directors were made redundant compared to male directors (7.4 per cent compared to 3.1 per cent).

Who is the Chartered Management institute and what did they have to say about the research findings?

CMI is a membership organisation dedicated to raising standards of management and leadership across all sectors of the UK commerce and industry. It is also the founder of the National Occupational Standards for Management and Leadership and sets the standards that others follow.

Ann Francke, CMI Chief Executive, said: “This lack of a strong talent pipeline has to change, and fast.  Allowing these types of gender inequalities to continue is precisely the kind of bad management that we need to stamp out.

“We need an immediate and collaborative approach to setting things straight. The Government should demand more transparency from companies on pay, naming and shaming organisations that are perpetuating inequality and celebrating those that achieve gender equality in the executive suite and the executive pay packet. The new plans to require companies to report on the number of women in senior positions are also welcome. Government should move ahead with plans to reform parental leave, which will remove one of the barriers that makes it impractical for women to play a greater a part in the workforce”

The gap widens. Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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The surprising truth about ingrowing toenails (and other medical myths)

Medicine is littered with myths. For years we doled out antibiotics for minor infections, thinking we were speeding recovery.

From time to time, I remove patients’ ingrowing toenails. This is done to help – the condition can be intractably painful – but it would be barbaric were it not for anaesthesia. A toe or finger can be rendered completely numb by a ring block – local anaesthetic injected either side of the base of the digit, knocking out the nerves that supply sensation.

The local anaesthetic I use for most surgical procedures is ready-mixed with adrenalin, which constricts the arteries and thereby reduces bleeding in the surgical field, but ever since medical school I’ve had it drummed into me that using adrenalin is a complete no-no when it comes to ring blocks. The adrenalin cuts off the blood supply to the end of the digit (so the story goes), resulting in tissue death and gangrene.

So, before performing any ring block, my practice nurse and I go through an elaborate double-check procedure to ensure that the injection I’m about to use is “plain” local anaesthetic with no adrenalin. This same ritual is observed in hospitals and doctors’ surgeries around the world.

So, imagine my surprise to learn recently that this is a myth. The idea dates back at least a century, to when doctors frequently found digits turning gangrenous after ring blocks. The obvious conclusion – that artery-constricting adrenalin was responsible – dictates practice to this day. In recent years, however, the dogma has been questioned. The effect of adrenalin is partial and short-lived; could it really be causing such catastrophic outcomes?

Retrospective studies of digital gangrene after ring block identified that adrenalin was actually used in less than half of the cases. Rather, other factors, including the drastic measures employed to try to prevent infection in the pre-antibiotic era, seem likely to have been the culprits. Emboldened by these findings, surgeons in America undertook cautious trials to investigate using adrenalin in ring blocks. They found that it caused no tissue damage, and made surgery technically easier.

Those trials date back 15 years yet they’ve only just filtered through, which illustrates how long it takes for new thinking to become disseminated. So far, a few doctors, mainly those in the field of plastic surgery, have changed their practice, but most of us continue to eschew adrenalin.

Medicine is littered with such myths. For years we doled out antibiotics for minor infections, thinking we were speeding recovery. Until the mid-1970s, breast cancer was routinely treated with radical mastectomy, a disfiguring operation that removed huge quantities of tissue, in the belief that this produced the greatest chance of cure. These days, we know that conservative surgery is at least as effective, and causes far less psychological trauma. Seizures can happen in young children with feverish illnesses, so for decades we placed great emphasis on keeping the patient’s temperature down. We now know that controlling fever makes no difference: the fits are caused by other chemicals released during an infection.

Myths arise when something appears to make sense according to the best understanding we have at the time. In all cases, practice has run far ahead of objective, repeatable science. It is only years after a myth has taken hold that scientific evaluation shows us to have charged off down a blind alley.

Myths are powerful and hard to uproot, even once the science is established. I operated on a toenail just the other week and still baulked at using adrenalin – partly my own superstition, and partly to save my practice nurse from a heart attack. What would it have been like as a pioneering surgeon in the 1970s, treating breast cancer with a simple lumpectomy while most of your colleagues believed you were being reckless with your patients’ future health? Decades of dire warnings create a hefty weight to overturn.

Only once a good proportion of the medical herd has changed course do most of us feel confident to follow suit. 

This article first appeared in the 20 April 2017 issue of the New Statesman, May's gamble

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