Written by
Ruth Thomas
Senior Consultant and Co-Founder, CURO

07 October 2019

This is the second part of a two-part series. Read part one here. 

All too often, the defense given for why women earn less than men is because of the choices they make in their careers. But to tackle the issue, we need to address as a society why women make those choices. In many instances, we see caring responsibilities and part-time roles shared unequally, resulting in women pushed into lower-paid, flexible roles or self-employment after childbirth, frequently referred to as the “motherhood penalty.”

A quick spin through previous industrial revolutions reveals how the role of the family and gender roles came about, starting with traditional, agricultural societies where families worked together as a unit of production. Women and men could parent together while also playing a role in producing food or goods needed for household income. During the First Industrial Revolution, men, women and children transferred to working in cities and factories, but with the introduction of heavy machinery, these places became unsafe for children. Men’s greater physical strength gave them a productivity advantage over women, resulting in higher wages, and leaving women to take care of the home and family while experiencing a declining economic role.

Today, new technologies are making it easier for employers to accede to requests for flexible working and opening opportunities for remote working. But that alone does not provide the flexibility women (and men) need to balance ambition with caring responsibilities.

See the full article on Workspan here: Part II: How the Fourth Industrial Revolution Can Address Gender Pay Equity.

You can also read the first article in this same series here: How the Fourth Industrial Revolution Can Address Gender Pay Equity.