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Monday, 20 January, 2003, 05:10 GMT
Women losing gender pay battle
Woman and pay packet
A rise in the minimum wage has benefited women
The gap between men and women's pay widened in 2002, despite a number of initiatives aimed at greater equality.

A survey of pay trends from Incomes Data Services (IDS) suggested men's pay packets grew faster than women's for the first time in 15 years, largely because of huge pay rises awarded to a small group of male executives.

Nonetheless, male jobs continued to be better paid than those performed by women, even if the same skills and experience were needed.

"This analysis should be seen as a call to action to end the scandal of unequal pay," said Julie Mellor, chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

Block at the top

IDS said that until now the pay gap had been narrowing since the 1980s, making last year's growth in men's pay all the more surprising.

How on earth can we justify the low pay received by people caring for children and older people?

Julie Mellor, Equal Opportunities Commission

However, it was almost entirely down to the top 5% of the male workforce receiving massive increases.

Without this, the survey suggested, inequality would have been reduced.

"Britain needs to tackle the barriers that prevent many (women) from reaching senior positions," said Mrs Mellor.

Reassessing values

It was not all bad news, however, with IDS suggesting a rise in the minimum wage and an increase in public sector pay actually benefited women as they were more likely to be in lower wage brackets or government jobs.

The pay gap was more apparent higher up the management chain. Male financial managers and treasurers were found to be earning 40% more than women in the same role.

But the EOC said jobs at the other end of the scale also needed to be given greater credit.

"We, as a society, need to reassess the value we place on jobs traditionally done by women.

"How on earth can we justify, for example, the low pay received by people caring for children and older people - surely one of the most valuable roles in society?"

See also:

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