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What will it take to close Britain's gender pay gap?

What will it take to close Britain's gender pay gap?
From Al Jazeera - April 7, 2018

This past week, all companies with more than 250 employees in the UKwere required to file their figures to the UK gender pay gap service,which allows employees to check their company's record. The aim is to force employers to look at the barriers facing women in the workplace.

The so-called "gender pay gap" has revealed huge disparities in pay between the sexes, with 80 percent of companies and public sector bodies operating in Britain often paying men more than women, reports Al Jazeera's Neave Barker from London.

However, "It's not all down to gender discrimination," saysWendy Olsen, professor of socioeconomics and head of the Department of Social Statistics at the University of Manchester. "There's also the fact of occupational segregation".

"So you might be well paid in the job that you are in, but you might have left a better job for having a child and this is very gendered. So, if there are work stereotypes around caring for children, then it's very likely we will keep having this gender difference in pay," says Olsen.

Julian Jessop, the chief economist at the Institute of Economic Affairs, strongly opposes the reporting measures, calling the data "inaccurately reported".

"We often read that men are paid differently from women as if they are paid differently for doing the same job when in fact it's other differences - for example, whether they are working full time or part time or the type of occupation that they are doing. So the data is misrepresented," says Jessop.

"One of the biggest and most important differences is between full time versus part time incomes, which is not reflected in these data at all," explains Jessop. "Even if we do find out that men are overrepresented in some occupations rather than others, there is not necessarily evidence of discrimination. It's certainly not evidence that people are being paid differently for doing the same job."

"There may be a whole host of reasons why men and women choose or end up in different professions, which have nothing to do with discrimination and certainly have nothing to do with the fault of employers," says Jessop. "But many employers are being demonised - those companies with large gender pay gap in favour of men are being described as the worst performers or being named and shamed, which I do not think is the right approach at all."

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