Women still losing out in salary stakes
WOMEN who work in Kent earn almost a third less than their male counterparts.
Despite years of campaigning by equal rights groups, the average man working in the county still brings home around £9,000 more than the average woman.
The figures, published in a survey by the Office of National Statistics show that a woman with a career spanning 40 years would lose out on £346,920 in her lifetime, the equivalent of 21 new cars.
Shockingly, the pay gap has actually widened in the past year – since 2007, earnings for women working here have fallen another £250 behind men.
The statistics for men and women living in Kent but working either here or elsewhere are even larger – the gap has widened by almost £2,000 to £14,332.
Nicola Brewer, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: ‘In these tough economic times, everyone will be counting the pounds and pence.
“Today’s figures show women in particular are feeling the pinch. The pay gap highlights a wider failure – Britain’s failure to work better. Women who want or need flexibility often find they have to trade down.
“Many of the well-paid, highstatus jobs are stuck in an inflexible 1950s mould designed for an era when men worked and women stayed at home.”
Overall, the best place to earn money as a man is Dartford, where male employees can expect to earn an average annual income of £38,296; however, the richest men in the county live in the Sevenaoks area, with the average male earning a staggering £52,889.
For women, the best place to earn a bit of cash in Kent is Tunbridge Wells, where the average woman nets around £26,328 annually, although the richest women living in the county join their rich male counterparts in Sevenoaks, earning £44,010 on average a year.
Sarah Veale, a commissioner at the Women’s National Commission, blames the gap on two main principles; the pay rate tending to be higher among typically male jobs and the belief among some employers still that women aren’t the principle breadwinners and are simply supplementing their husband’s income.
She said: “It is very disheartening because often the actual value to society of the two jobs may be equal, or it may even be that the value to society of a typically female job may be higher, for instance, the role of a care worker compared to that of someone who puts a car together.”
The pay gap differed greatly in different parts of the county – in Shepway male employees earned almost £15,000 more than females but, in Swale there was only a £4,000 difference.
Sarah Veale warns that the pay gap will never close until companies become more transparent about pay.
She said: “All employers should be made to publish what they pay people so that you can see for yourself whether you’re being paid less than a man who’s doing a job of equivalent value.”