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Women's career choices 'key to closing gender pay gap'

Published 24/09/2016

Deloitte's study shows that the hourly pay gap between men and women is closing at a rate of just 2.5 pence per year
Deloitte's study shows that the hourly pay gap between men and women is closing at a rate of just 2.5 pence per year

Britain's gender pay gap won't close until 2069 unless more women are encouraged to take up careers in industries such as science and engineering, a new report is warning.

Research by accountancy giant Deloitte suggests that women should take advantage of technology-driven changes in the labour market by studying and working in areas like science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), where pay is more balanced.

Deloitte's study shows that the hourly pay gap between men and women is closing at a rate of just 2.5 pence per year - with pay parity not expected until 2069.

However, the report says it is "too simplistic to explain the gender pay gap in terms of pay inequality," and that it is party due to difference in career paths, which are affected by academic choices and the subjects that each gender studies.

Deloitte says women currently make up just 14.4% of the STEM workforce in the UK.

Female graduates earn an average of 8% less than their male counterparts across all STEM subjects combined. That's compared to 9% across all other industries.

Meanwhile, there is no pay gap across medicine, dentistry, engineering and technology, Deloitte's report shows.

Emma Codd, managing partner for talent at Deloitte, said: "We know that the pay gap is far smaller for those women starting their careers in STEM related roles; we also know that high-skilled jobs demanding a blend of cognitive, social and technical skills are typically among the most highly-paid.

"Therefore, if more women study STEM subjects and pursue related careers they will increase their earnings potential in the early years of their working lives and - should they remain in their careers - the later ones. This in turn should serve to reduce the gender pay gap," she said.

"A great deal of progress has been made in the past half century, but we should not wait another 53 years for full parity," Ms Codd added.

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