You're reading...

Two halves equal a whole

I recently read @sarahwelfare blog “Is there always a pay penalty for working part-time?” over on XpertHR.  This raised some interesting comparisons of earnings, highlighting gender differences.

However, looking at the related data in the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s “Gender Pay Gaps” briefing I was struck by 2 tables showing the mean & median earnings of full-time employees by age in the UK for 2010.

What these showed quite starkly was that full-time earnings stay largely similar until our 30’s.  Thereafter, men’s average earnings continue to grow for another 10-20 more years, whereas women’s actually start to decline.  The effect of this is a significant gender pay gap for those over 40, but significantly less so for those under 40.

It can be hard to relate the macro to the micro, and even compare like for like but I’m really struck by this dynamic.  I actually thought that the gender pay divide was more evident across the generations.

Two halves perhaps?
I’ve never believed that gender should make a difference in terms of pay or opportunity.  However, there is an evident gap which many of us are keen to see made transparent and the gap closed.

My immediate reaction to this data was to assume a primary relationship here with parental responsibilities, especially as the average age of first time mothers is now close to 30.  In fact I’m certain there is an impact here playing out in the data.

But looking at the dynamics between these age groupings could there be more… What about generational differences?  Could there be another longer term influence playing out?

The opportunities that founded women’s early careers have changed over the years with a growing expectation of equality in the workplace.  For those people now in their 30’s (born in the 70s & early 80s), their career opportunities and aspirations were quite different than a decade before or possibly even now.

Investing for our Children
We don’t know how the impact of changing generational attitudes of both men & women could manifest itself over time.  I also don’t want to detract from dealing with the issues of work-life balance & childcare and existing male cultural environments.  However, perhaps we’re starting to reap what previous generations have sown a bit more than we realise.
So what are you going to sow for future generations?

“The most unselfish thing you can do with your life is to plant a walnut tree. If you plant a walnut tree, you won’t see it fruit for many years – you’re investing for your children. You are planting something for generations yet to come. At the end of your life you need to be able to say, ‘I planted a walnut tree.”  Trevor Waldock


Comments are closed.


%d bloggers like this: