From education to employment

NATFHE Address Women and Work Commission Report’s Lack of Action Plan

The Women and Work Commission has released a gender pay report which further highlights the pay gap between men and women within Britain. It seems that gender discrimination is still prevalent in the workplace, with Britain having the greatest pay gap in Europe.

Although in many cases women are doing the same work as men they are not receiving equal remuneration. However, the University and College Lecturers” Union, NATFHE, has criticised the report for offering no course of action to address these issues. Gender duties are soon to become a matter of legislation, but the report did not touch on this point or raise suggestions for the implementation or creation of legislated policies which would see a review of these discriminate salary structures.

FE Pay Gap

The pay gap is an important issue within further education which has seen consistent differences in the contracts offered to men and women for the same work. Despite the promises implied in the gender equality duty, the pay report offers no assistance to women working in this sector. This chiefly affects those who work part time or at an hourly rate, which recently received attention in the employment tribunal victory of part time lecturer Susan Birch (to read more, please click here).

The report is a disappointing blow to unions, hoping to see a rigorous review of the position of women in work, who are not only underpaid but are often still effected by “glass ceiling” promotion. NATFHE is encouraging unions to not only resist pay discrimination but to attack it. They believe that support from employers is unlikely unless is it legislated and monitored, NATFHE feels that the report is too “weak” and will make little difference to the current discriminations.

Moving Forward in Theory or Practice?

Although the ideology of gender equality seems to be moving forward, with the introduction of gender equality duties, the practical application of equality is still far from reach for the woman most acutely affected by discrimination. These new duties will only fulfil their promise when employers are forced, rather than merely encouraged, through policy and constant monitoring to not only review but reform the pay gap.

The financial reward given for ones work reflects the value that is placed on the time of the individual. By consistently offering different packages to men, the message conveyed is that men (and their work) are more valued by the society. This is discrimination at its height and places women in a subservient position not only in the workplace but in the view of the society around them.

Sarah Chard, Diversity and Equality Correspondent

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