Women in Ashfield still earn on average 18.5 per cent less than men despite more than 40 years of equal pay legislation, a new study shows.
And the gender pay gap has widened for the first time in five years, reversing a period of steady progress on closing the wage difference between women and men.
Ashfield MP and shadow women and equalities minister Gloria De Piero described the figures in the study by the Office For National Statistics as depressing.
She said; “It seems extraordinary in an age when girls are outperforming boys at school, going to university in greater numbers and running FTSE 100 companies that pay inequality still exists, but it does.
“Women in Ashfield deserve much better than this and they can’t afford to wait another 44 years for pay equality, and neither can Britain.”
She said Labour would make work pay for the majority of women working in low-wage and insecure jobs by substantially increasing the national minimum wage, tax breaks for companies to pay the living wage and ending the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts.
But business organisations in the area said the figures may not be comparing jobs and their pay levels on a like-for-like basis, instead looking at the issue in general, across all sectors and job roles.
Census data shows there are 10,000 fewer females in full time employment in Ashfield than males and around 8,000 more females in part time employment.
A spokesman for Nottinghamshire’s Chamber of Commerce said the issue was not sexism in the workplace, adding: “Gender should have no bearing on what people earn and legislation exists to prevent employers from paying different rates of pay to men and women for doing the same job.
“It’s more about addressing any potential gaps in education and skills, providing better careers guidance to raise aspirations, encouraging and enabling more women to enter traditionally male-dominated industries such as the STEM sectors and giving all employers the widest pool of talent to pick from.”
Mansfield 2020 board director Russel Jones, said the area has always historically had a high incidence of low paid female employment.
He said: “Working from a low base upwards is always likely to skew any statistical information and will take time to put right.”
Traditional roles and views were being challenged and overcome to help the area shed its historical image.