The trouble with women

There have been many revolutions in the workplace - hierarchies flattened, 360-degree appraisals, remote working, flexitime, the internet ... Yet the gender pay gap endures and the statistics still shock. The reasons are complex, subtle and deep-rooted, but perhaps female staff could be more proactive. Emma De Vita searches for the road to equality.

It's 1975. The Kevin Keegan perm is the height of fashion, the air is heavy with Old Spice, and Wonder Woman is getting ready to kerpow on to our TV screens. Margaret Thatcher wins a land-slide victory to become leader of the Tory Party. And the 1970 Equal Pay Act comes into force, with the heroic aim of wiping out the 30% pay differential between men's and women's earnings.

Thirty-three years on and Britain has had its first female prime minister - yet there are just three FTSE-250 female CEOs, and the pay gap is running at a stubborn 17%. With all legal impediments removed, who'd have thought that women still wouldn't be getting what they deserve? Wonder Woman, where are you?

'It's a lot better than it was 30 years ago,' insists Baroness Denise Kingsmill. A non-exec director of British Airways and author of a 2001 review of women's pay and employment, she has long been banging the equality drum. 'One keeps having reason for optimism - hoping to push the peanut forward, so to speak.'

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