DOD’s blog: History is against us on unfair pay

There is nothing like a big pay gap story to get everyone – and women in particular – hot under the collar.


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And so it was this week, when the Chartered Management Institute published its annual National management salary survey in which it found female managers earn 35% less than men.

No one likes unfairness, and I condemn it completely.

But unpicking the causes of this unfairness are extremely tough. These days, in the UK discrimination is rarely ever down to conscious prejudice. But I do believe that unconscious prejudice still plays a role – and that prejudice is demonstrated by both genders.

For example, taller people with deeper voices command more respect in our society. For whatever reason, they are often afforded greater gravitas than the rest of us. Smaller people, and/or those with high-pitched voices, have to work harder to overcome this centuries-old cultural perception.

The brilliant Mary Beard covered this point about voices in her lecture ‘Oh do shut up dear! Mary Beard on the public voice of women’ which screened in March on the BBC (well worth watching, with plenty of food for thought).

We are fighting centuries of human conditioning of what makes a leader or manager, so it is no wonder we have not completely cracked the reward imbalance gap.

This is not to say, we should just give in. Rather, we need to face up to these broader, often unspoken, societal prejudices and tackle those. Otherwise we will never get to equal and fair pay.

Debi O’Donovan


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Twitter: @DebiODonovan