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Gender Pay Gap

Volume 608: debated on Thursday 14 April 2016

17. What steps she is taking to tackle the causes of the gender pay gap (a) in general and (b) in STEM careers. (904460)

Closing the gender pay gap is good for women and, of course, for employers and our economy. That is why we are requiring large employers to publish their pay gap data. Occupational segregation is one of the main causes of the pay gap, which is why we have announced the ambition of a 20% increase in girls taking A-level maths and science by 2020.

I thank the Minister for that answer. A continuing cause of the pay gap is the lower incidence of women studying science and engineering at university. Does she agree that closing the STEM gap is a prerequisite for closing the pay gap?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics carry a significant wage premium. Although women make up 50% of STEM undergraduates, that simply does not translate into the workplace. That is why we have set up a new careers and enterprise company to bring schools and businesses together to inspire and inform young people. We have also published guidance called “Your Daughter’s Future” to help parents to guide their daughters in subject and career choices.

The Women and Equalities Committee’s report on the gender pay gap showed strong and compelling evidence that increasing the availability of well-paid flexible work would make a significant difference in reducing the pay gap. What will the Government do to make flexible working easy and to encourage employers to offer it from the date of employment rather than having to wait for six months?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. That is why this Government have done more than any before to extend the right to flexible working to all employees. We will continue to work with businesses to encourage them to get the very best out of every single one of their staff.

The private sector has made great progress in gender equality in recent years, but there is still a big problem. Research by Simon Fanshawe has proved that there are more men called Andrew, David and John in senior positions in FTSE 100 companies than there are women. What more can the Government do to incentivise good practice and better gender equality in the FTSE 100? [Interruption.]

Yes, more Carolines. The hon. Member for Hove (Peter Kyle) is absolutely right, which is why the Government have done more than ever before to encourage FTSE 100 companies to address that issue. There are now no all-male boards in the FTSE 100. The next stage is to look at the executive pipeline and to make sure that we are encouraging women at every stage, so that we have more women on boards than ever before.