Gender Pay Gap: How Being An Open Female Leader Can Close The Gap
Despite being illegal for 45 years and illogical since forever, the gender pay gap is still a thing that definitely exists. Although admittedly at its lowest level ever at just over 18%, and in spite of the fact that when you search 'pay gap' in Google, it completes that 6 letter mouthful with the word 'myth', it still definitely exists. In a positive step in the right direction however, this April, 250 companies will be legally required to publish their gender pay gap in a bid for transparency and eventual eradication. This is great, of course, but it's just the cold numerical tip of a much more ingrained human issue that deserves to be explored in tandem.
In a tragicomic display of oversimplification and lack of empathetic insight, gov.uk explains the reasons for the gender pay gap as 'a higher proportion of women choose occupations that offer less financial reward (e.g. administration). Many high paying sectors are disproportionately made up of male workers (e.g. information and communications technology).'
BUT WHY?! Why are women 'choosing' lesser paid and unimaginatively cited 'admin roles'? I would argue that it's rarely a choice at all rather than a lack of female leaders that women want to follow. It's worth labouring the last point there...'that women want to follow'. Not women who aren't speaking out about their worries about starting a family for fear of the 'motherhood penalty'. Not women who are silent about the misogyny they experience daily in order to maintain their position at work. Not women who feel uncomfortable in helping other women rise to the top for fear that they will lose their hard-earned power.
If you are looking at the women at the top of your field for inspirational but you end up thinking to yourself 'why would I want to be like you?', then we have a problem. That's when women don't want to hustle for the big roles. That's when women don't want to ask for promotions. If being the CEO means compromising on the very fabric of your existence everyday of your life, why would you want that for yourself? What is appealing about being penalised for having a child? What is appealing about suppressing your innate femininity in order to fit in with a system entirely constructed by and for men? Nothing. It doesn't seem like much of a choice now, does it.
Leadership is nearly always about people, and people are always fallible regardless of job-title. If more women in powerful positions in business felt safe enough to talk about their personal concerns, fears and actions about their experiences of why the pay gap exists, then it'll tear those boundaries to entry down for all of us. As soon as we start being honest and open about these outward looking 'choices' to stay in compromise-free but financially lacking roles and the more human we make the conversation, the more women will realise that there is a rightful and welcoming place for them anywhere on the career ladder.
We need to stop being apologetic about wanting children and a high-paying job and respect/sanity/a life. 'I'm sorry' isn't going to pay for that badass flat you want or those higher education courses. 'I deserve' just might.
Love Margots MCR x