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Cleaner, Baker, Homemaker: Why are Women Still at a Financial Disadvantage?

by AJ Craig

In a year where the achievements of women are splashed across headlines and gender equality is now interpreted as a ‘non-issue’ by most, why are women still not being paid their worth?

 

According to Wise.com the average living cost for a single person living in London is just under £920 per month. And according to Statistica, as of late 2022, there is a difference of £5,576 between the salaries of men and woman, with the latter coming up short.


And that’s not all, 2023 government reports still show that the gap is most definitely wide, with 9.4% being the median between both public and private sectors gender pay. Public occupations include emergency service and NHS workers, teachers and council workers whereas private sector jobs include domestic service providers, consumer goods providers and hospitality.

 


Occupations such as cleaners, childcare and teaching as well as nursing are still heavily female dominated. In the past year alone, all three professions have been at the centre of individual and combined strikes over pay disputes. An argument can be made for underfunding in these sectors yet male counterparts are still earning more, despite alleged underfunding.  


The short term effects of gender pay differences include women being more likely to use social financial benefits to subsidise lower income, higher risk of single mother family poverty and higher use of other living subsidiaries such as food banks. These most immediate effects are already unacceptable but longer term effects of lower earnings mean that come retirement and the end of working life, women are more likely to receive lower pension rates and financial benefits compared to men.


Even after being largely aware of the term ‘gender pay gap’ for a long period of time, it may still be hard to understand why exactly it occurs. And the answer as to why is something that has hindered the progress of women for even longer; systemic inequality.


The influence of patriarchal pressure and gender norms projected onto us from birth often sways the occupations that are chosen by men and women. Alternate factors such as the need to establish a family and to marry can also be traced back to gender norms and societal pressures. These expectations then push women further away from career and closer to domestic roles, eventually relying on the finances of a male partner.


And, unfortunately, the attitude and dispute over gender pay trickle down to the younger generation too. In a recently re-emerged 2016 Jimmy Kimmel clip, several children are asked why they think women are paid less then men in which a male child replies ‘because men work harder [because] my dad is a real estate agent’. Less than a second later, a young girl responds to the question with ‘ ... men make all the decisions and make all of the rules’. 


When quizzed further about if this would change if the country had a female head of state, the child replies hopefully, ‘Yes, I hope so. Maybe a little bit’.


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