HR & Management

The UK's female inventors get paid 14% less than men

4 min read

22 February 2016

Research by Myriam Mariani and Karin Hoisl calls for action to ensure equal wages for equally performing or skilled employees – and to encourage female students to engage in scientific studies, as inventors comprise of only 4.2 per cent women.

It was revealed at the First Women Summit 2016 by Caroline Dinenage, parliamentary under secretary for Women and Equalities and Family Justice, that the 19.2 per cent difference in wages between genders did not truly reflect the pay gap for those working full time, or in fact those aged under 40. This, she said, was due to the increasing number of women in part-time work and lower-paid jobs. She also argued that women who returned to work after taking maternity leave endured lower pay and fewer promotions for decades. 

While the actual gap only really starts for those aged 40 and beyond, women’s rights campaigner Fawcett Society maintained that at the current rate of progress it would take 50 years to close the pay gap – this statistic was backed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ “Opportunities and outcomes in education and work: Gender effects” report. It suggested women working full time are paid less than men in 90 per cent of sectors, with those working in financial and insurance sectors among the worst affected.

This has led to numerous industries calling out for a change – one such sector being research and invention.

Read more about the gender pay gap:

In industrial research, females only represent 4.2 per cent of all inventors, and earn about 14 per cent less than their male peers. The difference in earnings persists in spite of the fact that the quality of research of females does not differ from that of males. As such, Myriam Mariani of Bocconi University and Karin Hoisl of Mannheim University studied a sample of 9,692 inventors from 23 countries and found that despite the relationship between having children and income being negative, it is not statistically different for males and females. 

It was concluded that part of the wage gap remained even after accounting for a large amount of personal characteristics that might differ on average between male and female inventors – which raises key issues for policy makers. 

“Women are significantly underrepresented among inventors, and those who succeed as inventors earn less than their male peers,” Mariani said. She claimed policy makers needed to intervene in order to foster greater access to science-based professions during early education. To stimulate science and engineering enrolment by women, teachers needed to encourage female students to engage in scientific studies and school administrators could provide information to families about the importance of early scientific learning and socialisation processes that influence children’s preferences for science. 

In addition to intervening in early educational stages, Mariani suggested equipping women with the skills and competences required to pursue inventive jobs, which would require government action to create mechanisms for ensuring equal wages for equally performing or skilled employees.

Concerned with issues surrounding gender diversity in business? Don’t miss the Real Business First Women programme:

Drawing on years of the First Women movement and the phenomenal network of pioneering women the Awards has created, this programme features The First Women Awards and The First Women Summit  designed to educate, mentor and inspire women in all levels of business.

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