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What can women do?

Sarah Coles, a senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, warned women will pay the price for the gender pay gap with lower financial resilience throughout their lives. She noted Equal Pay Day falls later this year, because the gender pay gap has widened, with the mean gap for full time employees rising from 10.6 to 11.9 percent.

While this “is likely” to have more to do with furlough rates during the pandemic than a permanent deterioration in women’s pay, it demonstrated the scale of the challenge facing women.

As to be expected, family commitments play a large part in this, as Ms Coles explained: “Interestingly, the pay gap doesn’t widen when people start a family and one of them has parental leave, it comes a few years later. In some cases, it’s when people have second or subsequent children and decide to have a career gap.

“In others it kicks in while the children are young, when the ONS found women are more likely to make career compromises in order to work closer to home. They’re also almost three times as likely as men to work part time.

“This doesn’t just affect pay when women are juggling caring responsibilities, it also often endures if they return to work full time. The ONS found that after the age of 39, more men tend to be promoted into senior management positions, so women may have missed the opportunity to move into layers of management where pay tends to be much higher.

“To compound the problem even further, if more caring responsibilities emerge later in life, possibly as our parents age, the fact that women tend to earn less means they’re often in the frame for this care too. It means they need to make career compromises again, which can hold back their progression even further.”

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