Millions of young women being let down in workplace, despite #MeToo and gender pay reporting

The gender pay gap is not being closed as quickly as expected

A major new report from Young Women’s Trust has found that, despite the #MeToo movement and reforms including gender pay gap reporting, millions of women continue to lose out in the workplace – and mental health inequalities have got worse.

A Populus Data Solutions survey of 4,000 young people for the charity shows that, nearly a year on from #MeToo, a third of young women do not know how to report sexual harassment at work and a quarter would be reluctant to do so for fear of losing their job. Despite the introduction of gender pay gap reporting, one in five young women say they are illegally paid less than their male colleagues for the same work.

The charity, which supports young women on low or no pay, is releasing its latest annual survey findings in a report, ‘It’s (still) a rich man’s world’, 100 years on from the first women getting the vote but finds that women still face inequality in all aspects of work.

Young women remain more likely to be on low pay, job insecurity has increased, and debt levels have risen. More than a quarter say their financial situation has got worse in the past year. As a result, young women’s mental health concerns are skyrocketing, with four in ten saying they are worried about their mental health.

Sexual harassment is still not being dealt with 

  • 15 per cent of young women (some 800,000 young women), have been sexually harassed at work and not reported it – double the number of women who have experienced it and reported it (eight per cent).
  • A third of young women (32 per cent) say they don’t know how to report sexual harassment.
  • One in five young women (18 per cent) say that they are too scared to report sexual harassment at work and a quarter of young women (24 per cent) would be reluctant to report sexual harassment for fear of losing their job, or fear of being given fewer hours (17 per cent).

 

Employers are ignoring gender pay gaps

  • One in five young women (19 per cent, or more than a million) say they are illegally paid less than their male colleagues for the same or similar work, rising to one in four (25 per cent) for those aged 25-30.
  • 15 per cent of young women are disappointed by their employer’s efforts to tackle the gender pay gap but more than half (53 per cent) say they don’t have the confidence to challenge their boss on the issue.

 

Gender discrimination is rife

  • A third of young women have experienced sex discrimination when working or looking for work (31 per cent).
  • 43 per cent of young mums have experienced maternity discrimination.

 

Women bear the brunt of low pay, with debt levels increasing

  • Four in ten young women (40 per cent) say it is a “real struggle” to make their cash last to the end of the month, compared to 29 per cent of young men. This rises to 58 per cent of women aged 25 to 30.
  • 28 per cent of young women and 21 per cent of young men say that their financial situation has got worse in the last 12 months.
  • 39 per cent of young women have been offered zero-hours contract, compared to 32 per cent of young men. In 2017 the figure was 33 per cent of young women.
  • 27 per cent of young women say their level of debt has got worse in the past year and one in four (23 per cent) say they are in debt “all of the time”.
  • Just five per cent of young women are currently debt free and 37 per cent don’t think they will be debt-free by the age of 40.

 

Mental health concerns are skyrocketing

  • Half of young women say that their work has had a negative impact on their mental health (52 per cent women, 42 per cent men).
  • A third of young women (or 1.7 million) say that their mental health has affected their ability to seek work, compared to a quarter of young men.
  • Four in ten young women are worried about their mental health (44 per cent), compared to three in ten young men (34 per cent).
  • More than one in five young people report they are depressed (22 per cent of young women, 21 per cent of young men) and 37 per cent of young women are more anxious this year than last year (29 per cent of young men).
  • Over half of young women said they feel worried for the future (53 per cent compared with 42 per cent of young men).

 

Equality is a long way off but there is still hope of achieving it

  • Half of young women (51 per cent) think that it is unlikely that gender discrimination in the UK will be a thing of the past by the time they are 40.
  • However, nearly double the number of young women than baby boomer women identify as a feminist (50 per cent compared to 29 per cent).
  • More young women say they are confident asking for a pay rise than this time last year (20 per cent compared to 13 per cent in 2017).
  • And, while just one in five young women think that women’s equality has improved this year (18 per cent), that number is double the amount who said it had got better last year (nine per cent).

 

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said:

“Sadly, even a hundred years after the first women gaining the power to vote, it’s still a rich man’s world. Young women continue to lack workplace power and spending power.

“Our annual survey shows that young women’s treatment at work, pay and wellbeing are trailing far behind those of young men.

“If 2018 is to be a turning point for women’s equality and not just a footnote in history, then it’s clear that we need deeds, not just words. We need to be impatient for change: a lot has been achieved in the last 100 years but there’s still a long way to go.

“A concerted effort is needed from government and employers to provide young people with security and hope for the future, redress gender inequality at work and help manage the growing mental health crisis among young people.”

 

Young Women’s Trust is supporting young women to find work or training and take the next step in their career, while campaigning to make workplaces fairer.


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