Hooray! Pay gap halves for millennial women

Finally - some good news

The term ‘millennial’ may have become synonymous with ‘generation-rent’ or ‘boomerang babies’, but it turns out that things aren’t all doom and gloom for the M generation – that is if they’re aged 30 or under.

Pay gap statistics released today from The Resolution Foundation, found that the gender pay gap between women and men in their 20s has more than halved to just 5%. This is in comparison to a gap of 16% for the ‘baby boomer’ generation born between 1946-65. Hooray!

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However, sadly the findings aren’t all a cause for celebration. Among women aged 30 and over, the pay gap is very much alive and kicking. What’s more, researchers have warned that if the government doesn’t intervene, millennials are on course for a 30% pay gap by the time they reach their mid-forties.

Why? Because having children still adversely affects a woman’s pay. A report last year by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that the pay gap widens consistently in the 12 years after a first child is born, leaving women earning 33% less than men.

One contributing factor is that although many women return to work after having children, it’s common for them to return on a part-time basis. While their pay may begin at the same rates as their male colleagues, progression and promotion are harder to achieve.

Laura Gardiner, Senior Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, told Marie Claire: ‘Our analysis shows the remarkable progress that has been made in closing the gender pay gap over recent decades. The combination of equal pay legislation, stronger maternity rights and the rapid increase in female graduates mean that young women today experience far less disadvantage in the workplace than their parents and grandparents did.

‘However, its far too early to celebrate the end of the gender pay gap. The difference between men and women’s pay rises rapidly after the age of 30 once women start to have children and this ‘motherhood penalty’ shows no sign of abating.

‘It’s important that employers, government and wider society do more to tackle the gender pay gap at all stages are women’s careers.’

Since our previous report on the growth of the gender pay gap, it’s shocking that in 2017 women still appear to have to choose between having a family, and having a career (at least one that pays the same as it would a man). Yet there is some hope on the horizon. The government currently has plans to force large employers to declare their gender pay gaps, with a view to closing the pay gap altogether. And looking on the bright side, at least we can say we’ve come a long way from the inequality faced by our mothers in the workplace.

Words by Rosie Benson

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