Women are being disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis

Not only are more women in low paid jobs, but they are more likely to skip meals to cope with rising costs and experience money-related anxiety 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not only are more women in low paid jobs, but they are more likely to skip meals to cope with rising costs and experience money-related anxiety 

The gender pay gap was a key topic of conversation this International Women’s Day. At the centre of discussion was a new Twitter bot that retweeted the gender pay gap of every company trying to jump on the IWD bandwagon — genius. And at Marie Claire, we've recently explored how factors like men going part time and the menopause can have an impact on women's pay. 

Meanwhile, the Living Wage Foundation has shared vital new research on how women are being disproportionately impacted by the cost of living crisis. 

The first thing to note is that women are more likely to be in low paid jobs in the first place. According to the charity, almost 60% of all jobs paid below the Living Wage are held by women. A fifth of women in work (20.4%) are paid below the real Living Wage, equating to roughly 2.9m people, but when it comes to men just 14% (1.9 million) are paid this little. 

Women are also more likely to be impacted by spikes in inflation, with females more often spending a larger portion of their income on household goods that are susceptible to inflated prices, like food and cleaning products. This finding highlights how the effects of the gender pay gap are compounded by unpaid domestic labour and its associated costs. 

The Living Wage Foundation also conducted a poll among employees earning below the real living wage about how the rising cost of living is affecting them. 

The Life on Low Pay poll revealed that 42% of low paid women have fallen behind on household bills, compared to 35% of low paid men. Women are also taking more drastic measures to cope with the crisis. The poll found that 35% of low paid women have skipped meals regularly for financial reasons, compared to 29% of low paid men.

Among those living with low pay, women are more likely to feel anxious (50% women compared to 38% men) and that their overall quality of life is diminished (48% women compared to 36% of men). 

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Director of the Living Wage Foundation Katherine Chapman commented: “Our research demonstrates yet again the harsh impact of low pay on the millions of women that make up the bulk of many low paid industries such as health and social care. These women have been on the front line of a global health crisis and are now struggling to make ends meet in the face of an unfolding cost of living crisis on wages that don’t provide enough to live on. Low pay is a gendered issue.” 

Encouragingly, more than 9,000 employers across the UK have accredited with the Living Wage Foundation to protect all their staff from the trappings of low pay. Let's hope more companies follow suit, and fast. With fuel and food costs set to rise even further due to the war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis is only just beginning.

Kate Hollowood
Kate Hollowood is a freelance journalist and writes about a range of topics for Marie Claire UK, from reports on royal news and current affairs to features on health, careers and relationships. Based in London, Kate has also written for titles like the i paper, Refinery29, Cosmopolitan and It’s Nice That.