Why do men earn more than women?


I recently watched the Channel 5 documentary ‘Why Do Men Earn More Than Women?’, which was broadcast on 4th April 2018.

It was presented by Karren Brady, one of the high profile personalities you’ll be familiar with from her appearance on BBC’s The Apprentice, alongside her being the CEO of West Ham United Football Club.

Karren explored various aspects of this contentious topic, and in doing so, presented some truly shocking statistics.

At the beginning of the programme she interviewed BBC presenter Julia Bradbury, who said ‘a pay cut is not the answer’ in response to some male presenters – such as Huw Edwards and John Humphrys – taking a pay cut as a result of the publication of presenters’ salaries.

Karren said that when she was negotiating her salary, for appearing on The Apprentice, she made sure that she had a clause in her contract stating that no pay was to be any higher than hers.

She also said “I would never let a man earn more than me”.

Some of the statistics shown were truly shocking, including: 

  • Only 19% of senior managers are women and 41% of UK companies have no women in senior management (Grant Thornton 2017)
  • Men are 40% more likely to be promoted than women into senior jobs (Chartered Management Institute 2016)
  • 1 in 10 new mothers were dismissed, made redundant or forced out of a job within a year of returning to work (Equality and Human Rights Commission 2015)
  • 46% of employers think it’s reasonable to ask a woman in a job interview if she has children. 41% of employers said that working mothers are a burden to the team (Equality and Human Rights Commission 2018)

No wonder women at work feel uncomfortable about asking for a pay rise if this is the kind of prejudice they are facing and experiencin g on a regular basis.

Ladies – it’s time to stand up and take some action!

Karren said, “One of the first things to do as women is to learn how to ask for a pay rise”.

I couldn’t agree more! I was also struck by this statistic, highlighting that just ‘7% of women negotiate for more money when offered a new job, compared to 57% of men’ (Babcock & Lauschever - Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation And The Gender Divide).

So, what is stopping women from asking for the pay rise?

It turns out that the common theme is lack of confidence.

Recent research by My Confidence Matters, showed that out of 300 women, 43% said that asking for a pay rise made them nervous.

In the aired programme, Karren went on to give out some tips to a group of professional women who were role playing at being managers and employees.

Her top tips were:

  1. Never start a conversation about anything, let alone asking for a pay rise, with an apology. The first role player started her request by saying, ‘I’d like to ask you something if that is ok?’. Instead, suggests Karren, say what it is that you want, for example, ‘I’d like to negotiate a pay increase for the next financial year’
  2. Do your research to know exactly what you are asking for when seeking a pay rise
  3. Don’t take no for an answer
  4. Be confident in your skills
  5. Use strong and positive language when negotiating for a pay rise. One of the ways of doing this is to think about three things that make you who you are. When you have them, make sure the language you are using is assertive and strong. For example, use reliable instead of dependable; relationship-driven versus engaging; irrepressible rather than resilient; smart as an alternative to fast learner. Other confident words include determined, resourceful, trusted, inclusive and insightful.

The programme concluded with Karren saying, ‘Believe in your own value and be assertive in asking for a salary that you know you deserve’.

Hear hear!

We would love to hear your experiences of requesting a pay rise – whether or not it’s ended well.

To tell us about how this scenario played out, do email us on hello@myconfidencematters.com.

Sophie Edmond