Why women still are second class in the workplace

Aug 07 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Almost everywhere you look these days, senior management claim that glass ceilings have been shattered and there is no impediment to progression whatever your gender, colour, religion or sexual orientation. Talent will out is the mantra.

Alas, in reality this meritocratic view of modern management simply does not stack up, according to new research.

In fact, jobs for the boys, pay inequality and twin-track, gender-based promotions are all alive and well, a study by U.S website CareerBuilder.com has concluded.

Employers may increasingly be introducing programmes to promote equality yet more than a third of female workers still complain they feel they are paid less than their counterparts of the opposite sex with the same skills and qualifications.

Worryingly, this statistic Ė 34 per cent Ė is relatively unchanged on the 35 per cent recorded in 2006, suggesting that little progress has been made.

By comparison just 11 per cent of men said they felt they were paid less than their female counterparts, the poll of 4,328 male workers and 3,632 female workers across the U.S argued.

Looking at salaries, four out of 10 men reported they made $50,000 or more, against slightly more than a fifth of women.

Around a fifth of men earned $75,000 or more. And for women? It was a measly seven per cent, the poll found.

At the other end of the pay scale, nearly half of the women polled said they made $35,000 or less compared with 28 per cent of men.

Pay isn't the only area where women said they felt discrimination. More than a quarter of female workers said they had fewer career advancement opportunities than their counterparts of the opposite sex with the same skills and qualifications.

About a fifth said they did not get the same amount of training and learning opportunities and 17 per cent said they did not have the same amount of workplace flexibility.

"The number of women reporting that they receive less pay than their male counterparts has changed little over the last two years," said Rosemary Haefner, vice-president of HR at CareerBuilder.com.

"While companies have taken great strides to address equality in the workplace, there is still a lot of work ahead. Companies understand the value of having a diverse workforce and many are scrutinizing and improving their recruitment, compensation and promotion practices," she added.

When it came to specific industries, women who worked in healthcare, hospitality and education were all less likely to feel they were paid less than their male counterparts.

Women who worked in IT and banking and financial services were also near the national average.

Women in manufacturing, retail and professional and business services, however, were all more likely to report pay discrimination.

On the flip side, a fifth of men in hospitality and 16 per cent in banking and financial services said they were paid less than their female counterparts with similar credentials.

When asked to what they attributed getting paid less and/or having fewer career advancement opportunities than their male counterparts, nearly half of the women polled said management favouritism was the key issue.

A third said men tended to schmooze more with the boss, with a similar percentage arguing men were simply perceived as needing to have more money to support their families or tended to get better or more high profile projects.

A quarter of the women polled said men also tended to be more aggressive in their compensation negotiations.