Focus-Science and Technology - - CONTENTS -

Over the last few months the coun­try’s been hav­ing a hard look at the way it treats women. More specif­i­cally, cor­po­ra­tions in the UK with more than 250 em­ploy­ees have been re­port­ing how much they pay women com­pared to men. It’s an un­prece­dented en­deav­our, so nat­u­rally the data hasn’t been per­fect. The re­ports from each or­gan­i­sa­tion re­veal the me­dian hourly pay gap across the en­tire com­pany, over­look­ing the dif­fer­ences within sim­i­lar po­si­tions and leav­ing out some of the high­est and low­est earn­ers. That said, the initial sig­nal is clear: on av­er­age women earn 9.7 per cent less than their male col­leagues.

So what can we do? BBC staff (whose gen­der pay gap was 9.3 per cent) have writ­ten an open let­ter to direc­tor gen­eral Tony Hall ask­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion to ini­ti­ate to­tal pay trans­parency. If it be­comes pol­icy, ev­ery em­ployee will be able to find out what any other em­ployee is earn­ing. Here at BBC Fo­cus, this got us talk­ing. How would we feel if we sud­denly knew what ev­ery­one else was earn­ing?

Log­i­cally speak­ing, salary trans­parency seems like the speed­i­est route to bal­ance pay in­equal­ity. But in­stinc­tively, it’s un­com­fort­able. We’re more likely to tell a stranger how many sex­ual part­ners we’ve had than re­veal what we’re paid, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey car­ried out by Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don. So how can we nav­i­gate this tricky route ahead? On p47 Moya Sarner takes a look at what the re­search re­veals about pay trans­parency and finds out whether it re­ally does work.

Daniel Ben­nett, Ed­i­tor

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