|If you google ‘gender pay gap’, these are the results you will see.|
The second most searched term surrounding the gender pay gap has the word ‘myth’ in it. But unfortunately, it is not a myth. In fact, the gender pay gap has widened, meaning that women earn 15.7% less than men for full time employment in the UK. Furthermore, the gender pay gap gets wider in areas of employment that are mainly occupied by women, such as part-time employment or the public sector, where the gender pay gap stands at 35%.
But what about science?
Women are incredibly underrepresented in science, with over 80% of employees in science being male. Not only are women less likely to make a career in science, but they are also likely to be effected by the gender pay gap. In SET (Science, Engineering and Technology), the gender pay gap in 2008 was 12.6%. This is lower than some other occupations, but it is still a significant difference that should not be ignored because of this.
Generally in part-time work across the UK, the gender pay gap is incredibly high. But we see a large difference not only between the part-time wage of men and women in science, but a huge difference in the wages of part-time female employees and full-time female employees in science. Women in part-time employment in Science, Engineering and Technology will infect earn 21.8% less than women in SET working full-time.
A lot of the contributing factors that exacerbate the gender pay gap are alive and kicking in science. As well as women earning less for the same job as men, there are other factors that worsen the gender pay gap. For example, women are more likely to work in lower paid jobs than men, women are less likely to continue their career after children, women are more likely to take a career break related to family and women are more likely to work part-time. These factors are related to a lot of social issues that surround gender stereotypes, such as women are assumed to be the primary carer and men are less likely to be expected to stop working after having children, as well as women being subconsciously taught from a young age to consider their future career based on their future family and are less likely to see themselves in highly paid careers and strive to achieve that. These are also seen in science and this can have tremendous effect on their career and wage. For example, women are more likely to have a career break for family reasons and then are left behind, meaning that STEM educated women enter an alternative workforce that does not utilise their skills and usually part-time.
Science is not exempt from the issues that face women in the workforce, in fact not only does it echo these issues but sometimes it worsens them. And, for a community that strives to imagine the future, it is crucial that it becomes aware of its issues with gender and addresses them, to make sure that the future it is imagining is best for all of us.