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Is gender inequality an issue in your workplace?

Prevalent issue in many...


Gender inequality remains a prevalent issue in many workplaces. Despite being in the 21st century, issues around equal pay and diversity in the workplace are still pertinent.

But just how easy an issue is this for organisations to tackle when much of our treatment of others and interpretation of those around us is so deep set in the human psyche, often materialising subconsciously in stereotyping or prejudice?


Equal pay

The gender pay gap is a hotly debated topic. In the UK in 2014 the pay gap between men and women remained at 9.4%, with women on the lower end of the pay scale (this is an average figure, with variances between organisations).

Although still a significant gap between genders, what this does show is a marked improvement from the 17.4% pay gap back in 1997. Progress is certainly slow but sure.


Gender diversity in the workplace

What is clear is that gender diversity is in fact a diverse problem in itself. Some areas of the UK workforce are heavily discriminatory for stereotyping a gender, while others less so.  For many though, the balance of genders within professions are led by the individuals themselves and their own personal decision over which job they feel is right for them.

Heavily discriminated professions include primary school teachers and surgical practitioners.

In 2011, 91% of surgeons were male, yet 55% of accepted medical students were female.

Only one fifth of primary school teachers were male.

Is this evidence to show that gender stereotyping in the workplace exists alongside a set belief that a job role may be better suited to one gender over the other?  Although these examples are on the more extreme side of the spectrum, similar figures are shown across many more professions.

Conversely, men and women are sometimes drawn to different professions. This can be due to tradition, social expectations or of course personal choice.

99.96% of mechanics were male in 2013, due to a shortage of women wanting to train in the profession.

Midwifery is traditionally seen as a woman’s role and interestingly there are just over 100 male midwives, as opposed to 31,000 female midwives in the UK.

As long as the imbalance is due to personal preference, this is not a problem. The problem arises when someone is regarded as unfit for the job, for not being the “preferred” gender, whilst having all the necessary qualifications.


The Solution?

Supporting equality and taking steps to encourage it in your own workplace is the best way to steer society on the right course and set an example to others.

Eventually, the pay gap will close to an indistinguishable level and the typical workforce will begin to match the ratio of qualified male and female applicants for each role. Before then, however there is still a long way to go. We must all play a role in opening our minds to these issues and paving the way for future equality for all.  


*Source for statistics in this article collated from BBC news website, article published November 2014 

Posted on 29th Jul 15

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