New research released by UK based organisation Rest Less has revealed that the gender pay gap at its most extreme for women in their 50s– a concerning statistic given people now work longer than ever before retirement.
Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed that during their fifth decade, women’s salaries plummeted by 8 percent, whereas men’s salaries were reduced by only 4. And while both men and women reached their highest full-time salary in their 40s, there was a whopping 25 percent discrepancy of average earnings; with women taking home just over $65,000 and men nearly $87,000.
Speaking of the findings, Rest Less founder Stuart Lewis said: “Women in their 50s are facing a tough time in the workplace. Our latest research shows that women in their 50s are taking a double hit when it comes to their salaries, caused by both gender and age discrimination.”
In the last twenty years, the number of working women in their 50s and 60s in the UK has increased by 75 percent. In 1999, there were 2.7 million, while today, it’s 4.8 million.
In Australia, the figures are not any brighter. Despite the workforce participation rate among those aged 15-64 years being 74 percent, women constitute just 37.3 percent of all full-time employees.
In Australia, the gender pay gap remains at 14 per cent across full-time wages, and just last week, new research showed that female dominated jobs are more susceptible to automation in the future. This could lead to a potential widening of the gender pay gap.
We know that there is absolutely no shortage of working, ambitious women, as we showed earlier this year when we surveyed more than 1,800 women in our Women’s Agenda Ambition Report. But the same report also found that a quarter (27 percent) of respondents felt age discrimination could inhibit their attitudes towards work and future career success. Some women claimed to be victims of ageism at just 40.
Last year, government research showed age discrimination occurred at an alarming rate in Australian organisations, where 30 percent of surveyed employers admitted to not employing people over 50.
While In 2017, the National Bureau of Economic Research tested for the prevalence of age discrimination in hiring and found that that the résumés of older women got far fewer callbacks than both those of older men and younger applicants of either gender. As The Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore puts it, “Being good at your job seemingly counts for little. Try getting a new job past 55.”
Claire Turner, director at UK NFP Ageing Better says the ball is in employer’s courts to shift the dial here.
“Employers must take responsibility for ensuring that their women employees in mid- and later life don’t face disadvantages which restrict their pay,” she says.
Turner believes that making jobs more flexible would assist many individuals carrying on caring duties to stay in paid work, and prevent them from losing out on progression in the work market.
“We also need to tackle the pernicious sexist and ageist attitudes which can hold women back at work. More and more women are working in their 50s and 60s – and workplace culture needs to catch up to this shift.”