This report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies looks at the gender wage gap and analyses the key differences in the experiences of men and women at work.
Reducing differences in wages between men and women is high on the political agenda, as evidenced by the quotations above. Understanding these differences is important not only from the point of view of gender equality per se, but also for how best to address low pay and a lack of wage progression more generally. Poverty is increasingly a problem of low pay rather than lack of employment. The proportion of people in paid work has reached record levels, with female employment having risen especially quickly over the last 25 years, and two-thirds of children in poverty now live in a household with someone in paid work. Understanding the wage gap between men and women is important in its own right, but all the more so now that so many families are left in poverty as a result of low wages.
In principle, there are many reasons why the wages of male and female workers might be different: to name a few of the possibilities, they could have different levels of education or labour market experience; they could be in different kinds of jobs offering different balances between financial benefits (such as wages) on the one hand and other benefits (such as flexibility in hours) on the other; they could be working in different local labour markets, with different degrees of competition for workers between employers, putting different amounts of upward pressure on wages; they could bargain differently over their wages; or there could be outright discrimination.