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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 February 2008, 00:00 GMT
MPs urge action on gender pay gap
Woman using computer
Funding for training would help career changes, the report says.
The government must "take more seriously" efforts to eliminate the UK's gender pay gap, a Select Committee report has said.

The Women and Work Commission was set up in 2004 to tackle the pay gap which stood at 18% among full-time workers and 40% for those working part-time.

However the MPs said that though the commission put forward proposals, not enough had been done to implement them.

Occupational segregation is largely to blame for the pay gap, the report says.

Most women work in a relatively limited number of occupations with lower pay, or in part-time jobs, it points out.

Progress on pay is glacially slow
Dr Katherine Rake
Director, Fawcett Society

"We need a determined effort on all fronts if we are to crack the worryingly stubborn pay gap and inequality in employment," said Judy Malaber MP, who led the inquiry by the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Select Committee.

"We are calling on all government departments, public bodies and other Select Committees to keep this high on their agendas."

Career advice

Among the key reasons for the gender pay gap was the lack of quality part-time jobs, the committee said, which calling for more spending to tackle the problem.

The government was also urged to debate extending the right to ask for flexible working arrangements.

Other recommendations of the report include:

  • Schools giving higher priority to career advice and work experience to widen the work roles which girls consider
  • More flexibility and funding in adult education to help older women retrain for new careers
  • The government considering making audits of firm's pay by gender - currently done only in the public sector - also mandatory at private firms if the pay gap fails to decline more quickly.

The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equality between women and men in the UK, said the report added to pressure on the government to adopt more radical approaches to achieving equal pay.

"Progress on pay is glacially slow, and it has been a huge disappointment to women in the UK that the Government hasn't done enough to speed up change in this area," said the society's director Katherine Rake.

"Women are now looking to Gordon Brown to show that he is ready to act boldly, decisively and courageously to deliver fair pay for women."

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