Closing the gapDeloitte’s analysis shows that the difference in the hourly pay gap between men and women is closing at a rate of just 2.5p a year, and that in certain occupations, such as skilled trades and education, the gap is actually widening. However, the gap in starting salaries between men and women who have studied science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and go on to take jobs in those spheres is smaller than in other areas (and in some cases is zero). Read more: Misconceptions about STEM subjects fail young people If more women were to pursue careers in these areas, it would not only give them a more balanced portfolio of skills but would also narrow the gender pay gap for those in the early years of their working lives. This would, however, only deal with the early stages of a woman’s career – reducing it for later stages requires employers to take action to retain and advance these women. Currently, women only make up 14.4 per cent of those working in STEM occupations in the UK, so there is a long way to go.
It starts at schoolWhen considering one of the causes of this imbalance, we need to go back to a young age and consider the academic choices boys and girls make at school and university. Starting at GCSE level, a similar number of girls and boys choose to study STEM subjects overall, but three times more boys than girls take computing – this is at a time when technology is becoming increasingly important. At A-level, 40 per cent more boys than girls take STEM subjects, although girls outperform boys in all 10 of the most popular ones.
At university and in the workforce, the STEM gap widens further still. Of the women who do study STEM subjects during higher education, as many as 70 per cent do not go on to pursue STEM-related careers.