Women's low pay expectations make it harder to close U.K. pay gap

On average, British women earned 18 per cent less than men in 2016

Women's low pay expectations make it harder to close U.K. pay gap
A protester takes part in the Women's March on London, as they walk from the American Embassy to Trafalgar Square, in central London, Jan. 21. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — British women expect lower wages and tend to push less for pay rises, slowing progress to close the gender pay gap, research showed on Thursday.

Figures from the U.K.'s Office of National Statistics show on average women earned about 18 per cent less than men in Britain in 2016.

Men, on the other hand, are overestimating their earning prospects and are likely to seek a pay rise or change jobs in order to obtain better pay, a study by the University of Bath published found.

"It suggests more needs to be done to actively advance women at work, without relying on them to self-select for promotion and senior opportunities," Chris Lawson, a senior University of Bath lecturer who authored the study, said in a statement.

"The takeaway message of this research is not about putting the responsibility on women, but recognizing that without policy measures to address this, we run the risk of never closing the gender pay gap," he added.

Lower expectations also meant women tended to be more content and happier at work than their male counterparts despite pay inequality, in a phenomenon called by academics the "paradox of the contented female worker."

Last month, a parliamentary committee said Britain will fail to close the pay gap within a generation as promised without more flexible working, paternal leave, and encouraging women aged over 40 back to work.

A survey of more than 9,500 working women in G20 nations by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2015 found that four in every 10 women saw the gender pay gap as a key issue, with women in France, Germany and the United States most concerned.

Women in Britain, Australia, Brazil, and Canada also ranked the gender pay gap as their biggest workplace worry.

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