The gender pay gap shows there’s still so much to fight for

Written by Mandy Rhodes on 5 February 2018 in Comment

Speaking to a committee of MPs, the BBC’s Carrie Gracie exposed some disturbing and deep-seated attitudes about women in the workplace.​

100 years on from women getting the vote, and if last week’s events teach us anything, it is that there’s still so much to fight for.

For while MSPs in the Scottish Parliament rightly celebrated two important landmarks with a vote on 50 per cent representation of women on public bodies and the passage of world-leading legislation on domestic abuse, at Westminster a senior woman journalist was revealing the humiliation she faced on simply questioning why she was being paid less than a man.

Speaking to a committee of MPs, the BBC’s Carrie Gracie was in Parliament to tell the stark truth behind her resignation as the broadcaster’s China Editor and in doing so she not only exposed the personal pain at having her credibility put under the public microscope, but also the entrenched dishonesty behind the BBC’s gender pay gap and some disturbing and deep-seated attitudes about women in the workplace.

And while many may not shed a tear over the already highly-paid Gracie, we should all reflect on the revelation that the excuse used by her BBC bosses about why she was paid substantially less than her male counterparts was that she was “in development”.

In development? Gracie is a senior journalist with a stellar career at the BBC spanning more than three decades. She was, by all accounts, the only person suitably qualified for the job and was literally begged to take it. So, why on earth, was she singled out for special treatment in the pay department when conversely, it would seem, men come fully formed?

What a nonsense. There is no excuse for men being paid more than women for doing comparable roles. And that phrase, “in development”, that implied a journalist with a 30-year broadcasting career remained untested seemed the most painful for Gracie to bear.

As a woman, discovering that you are being paid less than a man for doing essentially the same job, isn’t just wrong, it is degrading. It carries with it the implication that you are less worthy, replaceable and that no one cares if you go. But worse, it fosters self-doubt, that nagging fear that maybe you’re just not as good as you think.

And indeed, when the BBC finally offered Gracie a substantial salary increase, she rejected it on principle, because what she wanted was the acknowledgement that she was as good as anyone else. And certainly, as good as a man.

Sexism still shapes salaries. In the same way as it shapes politics and our everyday lives. It’s why there was such an outcry in the House of Commons when the de facto deputy Prime Minister, David Liddington, told his opposite number, Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow first secretary of state, to “grow up” when she made the case in the Commons for votes for 16-year-olds.

Thornberry, like Gracie, shouldn’t have to parade her qualifications but implicit in their dealings was the view that as women they were not yet up to the job. By common parlance, it’s gaslighting. It’s corrosive, it holds women back and as we reflect on a century of women having the vote, it is about time it stopped.

This article was first published in the Sunday Post on 4th February 2018

Tags

Categories

Related Articles

Financial crisis ten years on: How the world's response hit human rights protections
4 October 2018

Kavita Chetty, head of strategy and legal at the Scottish Human Rights Commission, provides a perspective from United Nations Expert consultation in New York

Brexit deal would hit UK economy by £100bn a year by the end of the next decade, finds study
26 November 2018

National Institute for Economic and Social Research warns the overall value of the economy would shrink by some 3.9 per cent by 2030 compared to staying in in the EU

Related Sponsored Articles

Associate feature: How the Internet of Things is revolutionising business
26 November 2018

BT thinks The Internet of Things is about to undergo a revolution. Over the past two decades, we've seen IoT tech evolve from a possibility, to a novelty, to an established tool that plays a vital...

Associate feature: Quantum cryptography and the future of security
19 November 2018

Quantum computers will soon make some of our strongest encryption useless. And that's where quantum cryptography comes in

Associate feature: Intelligent Connectivity is transforming central government
13 November 2018

Tim Skinner, head of central government at BT, discusses Intelligent Connectivity, and how it’s transformating central government.

Share this page