Gender Inequality

Guest Blog post from Kathryn Foot

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ll have noticed that the gender pay gap has been in the spotlight.  Gender Pay Gap Reporting is now mandatory for firms employing more than 250 people, the deadline has now passed and the results were not good.  Just over 10,000 companies submitted their findings ahead of the deadline and of those it was revealed that 78% pay men more than women, 14% pay women more and 8% said they had no gender pay gap, based on the median measure.  The median pay gap among all companies that have reported is 9.7%.  Some companied faired worse than others, but I am not here to name and shame, I want to start a discussion and look at solutions.

Now I know that these figures are not based on like-for-like jobs, and I know there has been much debate around this.  I am aware that the reason for the disparity is because there are more men in higher paid roles.  For example, the airlines that reported their findings stated it was because they had more male pilots, and of course pilots are paid more than cabin crew or those in office-based roles (where there are more females).  But ask yourself, is that OK? There are reasons for this.  Why is the industry NOT attracting more females?  How can this be addressed?

Let’s look at this in more detail, according to the equality charity Chwarae Teg, in Wales just 6% of CEOs in Wales’ top 100 firms are female and a survey by Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and XpertHR in 2017 revealed that women are more likely to fill junior management roles than men, (66% versus 34% of men), while 74% of director-level roles are occupied by men. However, even when women are in director-level positions they earn less on average, with men taking home £175,673, while women take home £141,529.   

Women are not getting to the top level jobs and earning those higher salaries (and when they do, there is clearly a gap).  Yet we all know that on average there are more females accessing higher education every year, and they are performing better than men. 



Women who go to university earn on average a higher wage than those women that don’t. So, what is happening after they leave education and enter employment?

Full Fact reveals some startling figures and is worth investigating.  It is interesting to see that the pay gap increases after 30 and for higher earners.  It is fair to assume that those higher earners will potentially be some of our graduates.

What impact have these findings had on female students?  I think it is important that we find out.  A recent survey by the career app Debut, proposes employers with the biggest pay gaps are seen as less attractive employers to graduates. And out of the 500 surveyed (granted it is a small pool) it found that a third of female graduates won’t apply to companies with high gender pay gaps and of those that do, over half are uncomfortable with their decision – some of those companies are the big grad recruiters that you work with. 

In my humble opinion the gender pay gap exists for many reasons, attitudes and perceptions stemmed from upbringing, poor career advice from a young age, access to education, social mobility to name but a few.  Which is why it is such a difficult subject to tackle, but it is being tackled and progress is being made, although not quick enough. 

Your students will look to you for advice, support and maybe inspiration, so give them that.  Let the women that you support know that they can achieve anything they want.

Working with students is a real privilege, I can say that having worked with them for over 14 years. You have the opportunity to shape the next generation of leaders. And you are so much more than a placement manager, or a careers adviser. You are a mentor and a role model, you are able to provide real opportunities that will push them, upskill them, shape them and set them on their future path.

As a careers educator I felt I had a responsibility to ensure that I prepared my students fully for their working life and to inspire them so they can truly be the best they can be.  We are with them for a short period compared to their time spent in school or work, but we can make a huge impact.

So what can we do?

·         When talking to graduate recruiters, start asking them about their equality and diversity policies, look at their stats – how many senior managers are male, how many are female?  What are they doing about the gap? Do they have family friendly policies such as shared parental leave?  We need to make sure we are representing students fairly and giving them the best chance.  We are all in this together and we have influence so let’s use it

·         Run events (face-to-face or online) focused around women in leadership and work with a varied pool of successful mums, CEOs, engineers, pilots, entrepreneurs so they have actual role models to look up to – do a little experiment, in your next one-to-ones, start asking your students who their female role models are – it’s a question many struggle to answer – yet women need powerful ‘sheroes’ to inspire success.

·         With that I mind, feature case studies of successful alumni from different backgrounds

·         Hold Q and As with on-campus recruiters that address these issues and can help alleviate fears

These are just a few ideas that I am sure many of you are already doing.  I would love to hear more so feel free to comment.

We are all in this together, males and females and we can really start to make a difference.


Kathryn Foot is a freelance career coach and trainer and a Learning Development Partner for the Welsh Equality Charity for Chwarae Teg. She is also a Non-Executive Director for the miFuture Foundation, a social enterprise on mission to help 100,000 young people in Wales prosper. Previously she was a trustee for Placenet, was Operations Director for Careercake and worked as a careers educator at Cardiff University for 14 years.