10 November 2017
“The gender pay gap is persisting, but so must we,” say The Fawcett Society, the UK’s leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights.
The evidence of this gap can be seen in the media on a weekly, if not daily basis. Last month we learned that senior women at the BBC are getting legal advice after learning that the top on-air earners are all male, with the highest paid, Chris Evans, earning a sizable £1.5million more than the top female, Claudia Winkleman.
Furthermore, research published last week found that in some UK cities the gender pay gap is more than 50% in favour of men! And despite the median gap for hourly earnings falling to 9.1% (according to the Office for National Statistics) the Trade Union Congress still believes we are decades away from equal pay for men and women.
As a school which raises girls to go out into the world with real confidence and ambition how can I stand back and accept this reality? Our girls go on to achieve amazing things, breaking through glass-ceilings and pushing the boundaries, so why should they do so on a smaller salary?
Would you expect Georgia (class of 2012) who graduated from Oxford University and who currently works in the Foreign Office on the Brexit Negotiation Team to earn less than her male counterparts? Or for Lizzie (class of 2012) who uses Computational Neuroscience in her role as a Machine Learning Engineer at Dyson to start on a lower wage package – simply because she is a woman? I wonder what Beryl Corner (class of 1928), the first paediatrician in the south-west and one of the British founders of neonatology, would feel about us still being in this position?
As The Fawcett Society explain on their website, “The current gender pay gap means women effectively stop earning relative to men on a day in November.” This day is referred to as Equal Pay Day and this year, it falls today; Friday 10th November.
With this in mind, I urge you not to be dismayed and downtrodden, but to see this as our chance to push on, to make a difference, inch-by-inch if we must. Today, The Fawcett Society are urging us all to make a #PayGapPledge in support of our shared goal of equality. So I proudly make my pledge to continue to give young women the best start in life, arming them with the self-belief, ambition, motivation and opportunity to succeed.
Isabel Tobias, Headmistress, Redmaids’ High School