Last week, the Government’s equalities office published the Gender Equality Roadmap, a report which sets out eight key drivers of inequality and the government’s plans to combat it.
Despite some progress in tackling gender inequality, the report revealed some alarming findings, I have listed a few examples below:
- Women are more likely than men to work in low paying jobs and 20% more likely than men to be stuck in such jobs.
- On average, women enter the labour market with higher qualifications than men but earn less per hour from the start.
- The gender pay gap increases sharply at the point couples have children.
Women and equalities minister, Penny Mordaunt, explained:
“This inequality is faced at every stage of a woman’s life – from how she is treated in the classroom, to the caring roles she often takes on, and the lack of savings or pension she accumulates. This roadmap is intended to define and guide how we tackle the barriers women face as they journey through life..”
So, what are the eight key drivers of inequality and how does the government plan to tackle them?
- Limiting attitudes to gender can hold women and men back across their lives
The government vows to change attitudes towards gender. One of its proposals includes investing in programmes to increase participation in STEM subjects (i.e. Maths, IT, physics etc.) (particularly for girls) and by providing advice and support in schools on challenging gender stereotypes. Another proposal will see the introduction of a barometer to record the prevalence of harmful gender stereotypes in UK advertising.
- Women tend to work in lower paid sectors and occupations, and are less likely to progress
The government want a gender balance across both higher and lower paid industries. It aims to target sectors with large numbers of women, are fast-growing or strongly stereotyped by one gender such as construction, financial services and engineering. We will also see the launch of a national campaign for employers to help them build a supportive and inclusive workplace for all staff.
- The working age benefits system hasn’t always tackled the disadvantages that women and those with caring responsibilities face
The government want Universal Credit to work for women and will continue to make improvements by carrying out research, analysis and trials to understand the barriers women face.
- Women take more time out of the labour market to care for children
The government are currently reviewing the Shared Parental Leave and Pay schemes which will be completed by the end of this year. There is also a push to increase childcare support to £6 billion a year between 2019 and 2020 which will help support female empowerment.
- Women are providing more informal care and unpaid work for others
The government want those with caring responsibilities to remain in the work force and claim the benefits and support they are entitled to. Steps will be taken to ensure carers receive consistent and clear advice about their rights and entitlements by liaising with a range of cross-sector stakeholders including, charities, the NHS and the Money and Pensions Service.
- Some women face barriers returning to or entering the labour market
Last month, the government announced the recipients of the Returners Gant Fund, which supports vulnerable women to return to work e.g. individuals who have complex needs or who are homeless. Plans are also in place to raise awareness of good practice for delivering more flexible working hours for apprentices or carers.
- Women are more likely to face financial instability later in life, due to decisions taken throughout working life
The government intends to work with the Money and Pensions Service to explore the factors which help improve women’s financial outcomes, as well as continuing to monitor the impact of recent private pension’s reforms on women.
- We need to ensure that we sustain strong foundations for the future
Measures will be taken to review legislation relating to equal pay and sexual harassment. A taskforce will also be set up to address pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the work place.
While some of the proposals outlined in the report will take a while to be implemented, other initiatives are already underway.
The full report can be accessed here.