This past week seems to have been a good week for women. If coverage is to be believed we’re on our way to equal pay, there are more opportunities than ever for women in IT and politicians of every hue are popping up pledging their support of feminism. But if you dig beneath the surface, is there more to these headlines than first appears?
You may have noticed ‘This is what a feminist looks like.’ T-shirts dominating the news. The brainchild of The Fawcett Society (which campaigns for equal rights for women) the campaign has been left reeling after it was revealed that workers are paid 62p an hour at a factory in Mauritius to produce the T-shirts. Maybe that might not have been so unexpected if they were on sale in Primark for a couple of quid – perhaps accessible to all, we’d all be wearing them. The decision to retail them for a rather pricey £45 each didn’t help much, especially when it was revealed it would take nearly two weeks wages for a female worker to buy said T-Shirt. On top of all that some rather high profile male politicians decided to wear the T-shirts. This seemed like a bad joke to me.
We might not be able to change the plight of overseas exploitation overnight. But has there been progress since the efforts of the Dagenham women strikers of 1968?
Even though more than 40 years have passed since the Equal Pay Act was enacted women’s earnings continue to be significantly lower than men’s earnings. According to the Office for National Statistics’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) 2013, women earn just 80p for every pound men take home. ITV put the gender pay gap in stark perspective, reporting that women are effectively working for free between now and the end of the year. However, the issue may be more complicated to fix than you think – there may not even be an intention to discriminate against women on pay – with big business’s claiming that at the heart of the issue is that they themselves just don’t know how wide the pay gap is. So what is being done to redress the balance? Well, the government is offering technology to help analyse their payroll systems. It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but there is more to be done and hopefully Think, Act Report is just the start. Indeed Capgemini has registered its support for the Government’s Think, Act Report initiative to show our commitment to the principle of greater transparency on workplace gender equality issues, including equal pay.
Encouragingly V3 reported this week that the Tide is turning for women in technology: we’re on the cusp of change driven by growing opportunities in the industry – according to a panel of women in technology and politics. That IS good news!
And for anyone wanting to learn more – here’s Emma Watson’s moving speech about gender equality and the HeForShe campaign at the U.N. Summit: