The gender pay gap is once again in the news. Decades after the introduction of equal pay legislation, the figures are often startling. Take public relations: here’s a field in which women clearly do well (being in the majority in our industry by 62% to 38% according to the study mentioned below).
Yet research for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in 2005 suggested a stubborn pay gap remained. The average salary for all men working in PR was recorded as £57,165. The figure was £39,507 for women (these figures are on page 50 of the report). What can explain this gap?
Averages can be misleading, since men are disporportionately well-represented at the most senior levels. So the gap may not mean that men are earning more for doing the same work as women. But what else?
I’m inclined to think there may be some male boastfulness or female bashfulness involved. There are ways to compare salaries without this bias, but it’s likely that people were asked to volunteer their earnings on a questionnaire.
But the most compelling rationalisation of these surprising figures came from a first year student in a lecture theatre. Could it be he asked (note this came from a male student), that men tend to choose the better paying roles and sectors (financial, public affairs, corporate), and women the less well paid (such as consumer PR). It’s a good explanation, I think. Do you have a better one?