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Mind the (gender pay) gap



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The gender pay gap in the St Edmundsbury area is wider than the national average, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures show that women in St Edmundsbury earned, on average, 37 per cent less than men, while the national average is 36 per cent.

Women earned an average annual salary of £18,179 in 2018, whereas the average men’s salary was £29,004.

Increasing the number of women in employment and narrowing the gender pay gap could boost Britain's economy by billions of pounds, according to consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers. Picture by RADAR AI Ltd.
Increasing the number of women in employment and narrowing the gender pay gap could boost Britain's economy by billions of pounds, according to consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers. Picture by RADAR AI Ltd.

In Suffolk as a whole, the pay gap was even wider with women, on average, earning 43 per cent less than men.

Eleanor Rehahn, a Bury St Edmunds volunteer for the Fawcett Society, a charity which campaigns for gender equality, said: “The gender pay gap is because women end up being in lower paid jobs.

“It is often to do with having children. We need to look at the structures within the workplace and the disadvantages, thinking about childcare.”

Eleanor added that the problem was also the kind of jobs in St Edmundsbury, for example care roles, which were largely filled by women and were often paid lower than other job roles filled by men.

Jane Ballard, district manager of Suffolk West Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “Clearly any right-thinking person doesn’t feel that women should be paid less than men for the same job.

“I wasn’t aware of the statistics. St Edmundsbury has a fair amount of seasonal workers, at the sugar factory for example, which could be making an impact.”

All companies with 250 or more staff are required to report their gender pay figures.

The gender gap figures are calculated using a median, rather than mean, average to stop them being skewed by particularly small or large pay packets.

The difference in pay can partly be explained by the number of women in part-time work.

An estimated 8,000 women in St Edmundsbury were in part-time work last year, around 44 per cent of the female workforce.

Of the 21,000 working men, too few were in part-time work for the ONS to provide an estimate.

However, the difference in pay was still evident in full-time roles – men in St Edmundsbury earned £30,206 on average last year, while women earned £27,801 – eight per cent less.