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‘Glass ceiling still exists’ for women in the workplace

Resource type: News

The Royal Gazette | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

The “glass ceiling” still exists for women in the workplace — despite statistics that indicate females’ pay rose faster than males’ during the past decade.

That is the view of Elaine Williams, of the Women’s Resource Centre, who was responding to last week’s Government brief on personal income, which was based on figures from the 2010 Census.

Ms Williams also called on Government to set up a Gender Unit and to strengthen legislation to prevent discrimination against women.

Meanwhile Age Concern has said the income report, which illustrates the economic vulnerability of seniors, highlights the need to finance retirement plans as fully as possible and has called for a national ageing strategy.

The report showed that women’s median income of $56,134 was nine percent lower than that of men at $60,963 in 2010. However the figures showed that the pay gap between the genders narrowed between 2000 and 2010, as female income rose 50 percent during the decade, while male income rose 36 percent.

The apparent closing gap was down to a number of factors, Ms Williams said.

“The 2010 Employment Survey findings indicated that more females were in higher paying jobs compared to their male counterparts,” Ms Williams said.

“As a result there were sufficient females in these higher paying jobs to push the median income (for females) higher, despite males receiving higher pay in many of the industry groupings.

“Similarly, when the median income data by occupation group is sorted in descending order the same outcome is observed. However while females are generally better off in terms of income, males continue to enjoy higher salaries in those occupations grouped as senior officials, managerial and professional and which have incomes in excess of $90,000.

“This is in spite of the fact that most single family headed households are female and women are higher educated than their male counterparts.

“In spite of gains in income experienced by women, there is clearly room for improvement and gender inequity particularly by way of a ‘glass ceiling’ still exists in Bermuda.

“This is particularly important when we consider that many households are headed up by females who have sought higher education to maintain the family unit. When we consider how we can support the family unit for positive societal outcomes, these facts cannot be ignored.”

The figures in last week’s report also illustrated the economic vulnerability of seniors, who had a median income of $29,000 in 2010 — the lowest of any age group studied in the census.

Claudette Fleming, executive director of Age Concern, yesterday responded to the report.

“It is important that we include ‘age’ as a basis for discrimination within the human rights legislation so that those seniors who need to can continue to work and earn an income past 65 years old,” Ms Fleming said.

“However, the statistics also show that for those of us that are of working age that we must prepare to finance our retirement as early and as much as we can.

“The appropriate balance must be struck between personal responsibility and government support. Reaching that balance calls for a national ageing strategy on how to get us there, this has been Age Concern’s position for many years.”

Ms Williams said called for stronger laws against gender discrimination.

“We are hopeful that the Government will soon have CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) extended,” Ms Williams said.

“CEDAW is commonly known as an international Bill of Rights for women. CEDAW is about eliminating discrimination against women and promoting equality.

“We are also hopeful that Government will establish a Gender Unit to oversee policy formation, training and monitoring of policies to identify and correct gender deficiencies in every aspect of community life.”

Age Concern and Women’s Resource Centre are Atlantic grantees.

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Age Concern Bermuda, gender equity, Women’s Resource Centre