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Why You Should Care About the BBC Gender Pay Gap

Topics: Current Events
bbc gender pay gap

Recently, the BBC released its annual report, which under the terms of its new charter revealed the pay of network stars earning more than ?150,000 a year (around $195,000 in U.S. dollars). The report showed that the BBC’s top seven earners are men, and that only one-third of the highest earners are women.

“Basically we are furious but in a way quietly delighted,” a senior female journalist at the BBC told The Guardian. “Some of us have been ringing each other. The BBC has lied point blank to women and people of colour for years. Even when found out and challenged over blatant pay inequality they keep lying. If you try to challenge it they threaten you. It’s an endless battle. With the obvious exception of the few names on that list you’re never valued.”

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BBC Director General Tony Hall said there was “more to do” regarding gender and diversity at the network. In a radio interview, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “We’ve seen the way the BBC is paying women less for doing the same job… I want women to be paid equally.”

She added: “What’s important is that the BBC looks at the question of paying men and women the same for doing the same job.”

Meanwhile, at least 10 female presenters are planning to sue the BBC, per a report in The Independent.

What the BBC’s Gender Pay Gap Tells Us

The pay gap at the BBC is a good reminder that when it comes to pay equity, it’s not just about equal pay for equal work.

In an interview with Radio 4, Hall said that the pay gap across the BBC was 10 percent, compared with 18 percent across the U.K. He confirmed that this included both part-time and full-time employees, but said he was unable to provide further breakdown of the data.

But what does this gap mean, really? When PayScale talks about the gender pay gap, we look at both the controlled and uncontrolled gender pay gaps. In the most recent edition of our report, Inside the Gender Pay Gap, we found that women earn 76 cents for every dollar earned by a man — when we compare the earnings of all women and all men. When we control for similar jobs, experience, education and work hours, the gap declines to 98 cents on the dollar.

Of course, any gap means we haven’t achieved pay equity. But it would be a mistake to focus solely on the controlled gap, even if it closed to zero. The larger, uncontrolled gap reflects the fact that women are more likely to have lower paying jobs, and less likely to hold leadership roles.

The breakdown of the BBC’s top earners is an example of this opportunity gap. To achieve pay equity, the BBC will have to do more than pay men and women the same money for the same job. They’ll have to make sure women are represented equally among the top earners.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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