Article by Talitha Boitel-Gill, Associate Director at Harnham

mind-the-gap-ethnicity-pay-gap-featuredAccording to the most recent figures provided by the ONS, the gender pay gap in the UK currently stands at 8.9 per cent. Sadly, this figure is relatively unchanged since 2018, and is a menial decrease from 2012’s figure of 9.5 per cent.  

The worst industry offenders are Skilled Trades (22.4 per cent), Process and Plant Machine Operatives (18.1 per cent) and Senior Business Officials (15.9 per cent).

Across the whole jobs market, on average, a woman aged 30-39 earns £16.13 an hour compared to the £17.85 of her male counterpart, a huge gap of 10.68 per cent.

While there are many suggestions as to why women earn significantly less than men, such as having children or needing to take up caring responsibilities, the truth is that the problem lies with employers at the very start of an individual’s career ladder.

Many women are at a disadvantage from graduate level and therefore, no matter how hard they work or how quickly they climb the ranks, they will never be able to match their male counterparts.

How does Data Science fair? 

The number of women in Data Science has always been low in comparison to men; we know that only 25 per cent of the industry was occupied by females last year.

However, the data from Harnham’s most recent Diversity in Data and Analytics report found that this year that number has increased significantly to 30 per cent, pushing the industry closer to that desirable 50/50 split.

Nevertheless, many of these roles are held at entry or mid-level, with very minimal female representation at senior or board level. This means that despite less gender parity, the gender pay gap has widened once again.

The gap is 3.2 per cent bigger than last year, now standing at 10.5 per cent. Despite still being lower than it was in 2018 (13.3 per cent), it is still significantly above the national average. This is an undesirable place for the industry to be.

Currently in Data Science, for every £1 a man earns, a woman only earns 89p. And akin to the issue nationally, this gap starts from the word go, with women earning less than their male counterparts from entry-level and beyond.

What can Data Science (and the rest of the business world) do to combat the gender pay gap? 

Better representation at senior level 

Whilst progress is being made in the Data Science, and the overall Tech, sphere to encourage more women to join the profession, we are still seeing far too many women at entry level, and too few at senior and/or board level.

Only one in five leadership positions are held by women. Despite this number rising slowly but surely over the years, 12 per cent of respondents reported no women in leadership at their place of work, while 88 per cent had fewer female leadership team members than males.

Not only does this undo the current efforts of gender diversity, it also means that many women who may want to enter the market could be put off by the overruling number of senior men.

Additionally, a lack of diversity at the top may ultimately lead to a lack of diversity further down which can have detrimental impacts on a business’ success.

And so, ensuring that there is a clear career path with an equivalent number of opportunities for women and men alike is crucial.

Further encouragement at education level  

Tech, Data and STEM are all very male-dominant sectors, even at educational level. At A-Level, less than a third of female pupils ranked a STEM-related subject first for enjoyment compared to over half of men.

For many, this stark difference is heavily stigma-based. With girls opting for apparently ‘softer’ subjects such as English, Biology or Psychology.

To battle this, we should be shouting about the incredible opportunities STEM and Data could open for our future generation of women, and the influence they could have to quite literally change the world.

This could be through encouragement to attend ‘Women in Tech’ events or learning about inspirational STEM role models, such as Dame Stephanie Shirley or Ada Lovelace, both true pioneers.

Lovelace’s mathematical genius was the brains behind Charles Babbage’s mechanical general-purpose computer. Dame Shirley, a Kindertransport refugee who fled Germany in the Second World War, founded software company Freelance Programmers – the first predominantly female data and programming business.

It’s crucial that we are showing our next generation of women that females in this space are celebrates and championed, breaking down the gender-sensitive stereotypes that are still ever-present.

Stand up and stand out 

Whether you’re a senior member of the board or a graduate level employee, now is the time to challenge the gender pay gap. If you know your business is not representative or equal, it’s time to act.

For employees feeling unable to go straight to their employer, find an anonymous way of reporting this to HR if possible. Words without actions are empty, and now is time to fight against a truly needless inequality.

For the full UK Diversity report from Harnham, please click here: https://www.harnham.com/harnham-data-analytics-diversity-report-2021 

About the author

Talitha Boitel-GillTalitha joined Harnham in 2012 following a degree in Politics and American Studies. Since then, she has progressed through the business to the level of Associate Director and now leads the UK Marketing & Insight and Digital Analytics teams.


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