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Gender wage gap image - source

Tomorrow is Equal Pay Day, which means women will be working for free until the start of 2019.

This is caused by the gender pay gap, which sees women earning less, on average, than their male colleagues. 

According to the Fawcett Society's gender pay gap briefing, the current overall gender pay gap for full-time workers is 13.7%. 

The organisation says the gap is caused by several factors, including: discrimination; the under-valuing of jobs predominantly done by women; men continuing to hold the best-paid, most senior jobs; and women having more caring responsibilities for children and older relatives.

The campaign group says progress towards closing the gap has slowed in recent years. There are no guarantees the gap will close in future. It needs significant action from industry and government.

Breaking down stereotypes and improving workforce diversity

To achieve a more gender-balanced workforce and close the gender pay gap, we need to break down gender stereotypes and improve workforce diversity in all roles and sectors. 

Women make up less than one quarter of the transport workforce, 11% of the construction workforce, and 12% of the engineering workforce. We need to tackle this under-representation if we are going to close the gender pay gap. 

We know gender stereotypes are established at an early age and have a huge impact on children and young people. 

This was highlighted to me on a personal level when my son was chatting about the ‘men’ digging up the road. When I suggested there might be women there too, he said: No mummy, women don’t do those jobs.”

My son doesn’t get these assumptions from me - children form their views based on what they see in the world around them. If my son and his friends don’t see women digging up the road, they will assume this job is not for women. For young people, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.

We all have to do what we can to break down stereotypes and challenge assumptions about what are seen as ‘traditional’ men's or women's jobs. 

Five steps employers can take to achieve a gender-balanced team:

Many businesses in the transport industry want to achieve a more diverse workforce, but don’t know where to start. Here are five steps employers can take to help improve workforce diversity and attract and retain women at all levels:

  1. Profile women doing all jobs at all levels in the company. This will provide young people with visible role models and inspire them to consider careers in the sector.
  2. Set up peer-mentoring and support schemes for parents. This could include toolkits for employees and managers on how to manage pregnancy, maternity, paternity and shared parental leave. This will help people deal with the massive change in their lives when they become parents and help women return to work after maternity leave. 
  3. Actively encourage flexible and agile working for all staff. This should be led from the top. Senior leaders, especially male senior leaders, should be seen to work flexibly.
  4. Be aware of unconscious bias and the impact it can have. An example would be assuming a woman who has just returned from maternity leave won’t have the time to take on a challenging new project or wish to step-up to cover a more senior role.
  5. Establish diverse interview panels. Recruitment panels that lack diversity are more likely to make recruitment decisions that favour ‘people like them’. This disadvantages under-represented groups.

Taking these steps will help employers inspire more women to join the transport industry, as well as supporting and developing those women already in transport careers.