Tackling gender pay equality in Wales
23 September 2014
Online search tool developed by School researchers allows women to see where they are being short-changed in their working lives.
The drive to tackle Wales' gender pay gap has stepped up a gear with the launch of a new online search tool, developed by researchers at the School, that allows women to see where they are being short-changed in their working lives and how they might tackle the problem.
The digital barometer, which covers more than 300 different jobs in Wales, shows the proportion on men and women in each job, how much they earn on average in those roles and where gender pay gaps exist.
It has been developed by the WAVE project (Women Adding Value to the Economy) which is backed by the European Social Fund, through the Welsh Government.
The WAVE project is a three-way partnership between Cardiff University, the University of South Wales and the Women's Workshop @ BAWSO. The development of the Barometer by researchers at Cardiff University is part of the project's attempt to build a national conversation entitled 'Lets' Talk About Pay', focusing on how Wales can tackle the gender earnings gap.
The main aim of the Barometer is to inspire young women to compare what they can expect to earn in traditionally low paid, often part-time, feminised jobs against what they could receive for jobs traditionally undertaken by men. It is also hoped that teachers, parents, and careers and apprenticeship advisors will use the tool.
Dr Alison Parken, Senior Research Fellow at the School of Social Sciences and WAVE Project Director, leads the team that developed the Barometer. She said: "One of the key factors dragging down earnings in many undervalued feminised jobs is that these are also offered on a part-time basis, so low hourly pay translates into low weekly and annual pay.
"We have a chicken and egg situation created by the gendering of occupations across the economy. We need to ask whether these jobs are low paid because they are deemed to be 'women's work' or because they are largely offered as part-time, which is over-associated with low value work."
According to Dr Parken, getting more girls to explore non-traditional roles is only part of the answer. "We also need to look at how we value different kinds of work and how we structure job models in different occupations. For example we need to ask why more electrical, plumbing or IT jobs can't be worked flexibly."
The new search tool highlights the significant earning disparity between traditional 'women's work' such as hairdressing, childcare and office administration and overwhelmingly 'men's work such as electrical, ICT, construction or automotive jobs. Not only go jobs regarded as 'men's work' generally attract higher hourly pay, but jobs worked by women at the lower end of the earnings scale are much more likely to be offered on a part-time or casual basis.
The release of the Barometer follows on from the publication of a report by Dr Parken's team earlier this year which revealed that four out of five Welsh employees are in occupations that are dominated by one gender or the other.