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Gender Pay Gap

Volume 626: debated on Thursday 6 July 2017

The gender pay gap is now at its lowest ever, which is great news, but we need to go further. We are one of the first countries to introduce gender pay gap reporting, and I am delighted that mine is the first Government Department to have published its pay gap figures. What matters is not just transparency, but recognising where women face barriers and taking action.

I welcome the progress that has been made, particularly under this Secretary of State. Does she agree that central to further progress on this issue is a genuine and continued partnership between business and Government?

Absolutely. Mandatory reporting is just the start. We have worked with business to publish guidance on how to pull together accurate information and set out case studies showing what businesses and trail-blazing employers are already doing. With the Government Equalities Office, we recently held events in places such as Leeds and Glasgow that gave employers an opportunity to showcase the business benefits of closing their gender pay gap.

I congratulate the Department for Education on being the first Government Department to publish its gender pay gap and its bonus pay gap. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Department is leading by example in promoting gender equality in the workforce?

I hope that is correct. It is important work and we are strongly encouraging other civil service Departments and employers across the public sector to follow suit.

Globally, only about half of working-age women are employed, and they earn three-quarters as much as men even if they have the same level of education and are in the same occupation. Does my right hon. Friend agree that realising the economic potential of women benefits the whole of society, not just women?

Absolutely. This is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do. I have a role on the UN High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, whose work showed that gender equality and women’s economic empowerment is one of the most powerful global levers for growth that we can pull. Indeed, McKinsey did work that suggested that if we bridged the gender gap here in the UK, it could add £150 billion to our GDP by 2025.

International women in engineering day was 22 June. The Minister knows how important career choices are for women and the gender gap. What is she doing about that?

One of the main actions we can take is to make sure that girls study maths and science at A-level. We know that that is a powerful way to keep those career options open to them.