Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Puir women

Not now. Not in a modern Scotland. 

Surely we can do better than this. This is a picture with women at both ends. On the left it is about women and poverty, and on the right about the glass ceiling.

The graph is from the well-researched statistics of Close the Gap, the Scottish group working on the gender pay gap. Their Working Paper 14, published in April 2015, explains the challenges of calculating the gap between the wages and salaries paid to men and women in Scotland. It explains the calculation of "average" differences in pay and the relevance of calculating gaps in median pay.

In the graph the people earning the lowest wages are on the left - the 10th percentile - while the people earning the most are on the right - the 90th percentile.

Women in Scotland on higher salaries are typically earning between 10% and 15% less than the men in the same jobs. This is the glass ceiling.The graph shows that between 2013-2014 the glass got a bit thinner - women on the highest salaries were earning 17% less than men in 2013, and this gap closed to 14% in 2014. The same pattern happened across the four higher paying percentiles. This looks good. But it is still a huge gap. Why should a woman CEO earn almost a sixth less than a man? Not in modern Scotland, surely?

But it is their poor sisters who are the real concern. Because here, amongst the lowest paid women in Scotland, the gap widened. Poor working women were worse off in 2014 in relation to poor men than they were in 2013. 

Poverty is women.

Whether that is women on low wages, or as The National points out this morning, women on benefits, it is women who are hit hardest by poverty.

Poverty in women is (as poverty always is) a complex mixture of rights, of attitudes, of rules, of child and adult dependents, of education, of benefits sanctions, of poor housing... It is not easy to tackle. It requires the men and women of Scotland - from the 10th to the 90th percentile - to work together to close the gaps between women and men, rich and poor.

Surely we can do better than to leave our puir women, puir.

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