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Why are women paid less than men?

There's a fairly simple explanation:
They don't get the top-paying jobs.

By Emily Peck

This year, big companies in the United Kingdom were forced to do something amazing: actually reveal the difference in how men and women are paid.

Thanks to a law passed last year, businesses in the U.K. that employ more than 250 workers are now required to report gender differences in both hourly wages and bonus pay. More than 10,000 companies reported data by the April 4 deadline.

The numbers were bleak, though hardly surprising. As they do all over the world, women in the U.K. make less than men. Women’s median pay is close to 10 percent less than men’s, the data showed. At 80 percent of businesses that reported data in the U.K., men outearn women.

But the numbers revealed something else. By breaking things down by wage level, the data reveal what percentage of the best- and worst-paying roles are held by women. In doing so, they show a major reason for the pay disparity:  Women are making less not because men earn more for the same work, but because women aren’t getting the best-paying jobs.

At the granular level, the numbers were truly eye-popping. Men earn more than double what women make at some companies, demonstrating that when it comes to equal pay, women aren’t just facing a “gap,” they’re staring down a vast, dystopic hole of inequity.

The male-dominated finance industry was one of the worst offenders. At Goldman Sachs in the U.K., women earn 55.5 percent less than men, according to data the company submitted. Other global finance firms in the U.K. reported similar numbers. Women at Barclays make 48 percent less on average than men. At HSBC, the gap is 59 percent. JPMorgan reported paying women 36 percent less on average.

At Goldman, 83 percent of the top-paying jobs are held by men, the company’s data showed. At Barclays, men represent 81 percent of the bank’s top earners. Even at the U.K. outpost of Condé Nast, publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and Glamour, where women are a majority at every pay level, men still outearn women by 36.9 percent on average because of a few highly paid men sitting at the tippy top... more


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