How OSH practitioners could close the gender pay gap
25th August 2017
Women in OSH are in the minority, but more are choosing to enter the profession. The OSH skills shortage may explain why the differential is half the national average but, as a woman, I believe any pay gap suggests employers value the work we do less.
Many women can tell stories of being automatically treated as a subordinate to male colleagues. I was once asked if I was serving the food when I was standing beside a buffet for a meeting I was chairing. It wasn't that long ago that OSH careers in the Middle East were open to male applicants only. Laws may change, but attitudes take much longer to catch up.
I have always felt I had to put in more effort than my next-best male counterpart. It's something I accepted early in my career and perhaps it has made me better at what I do. I know I can be dropped into almost any situation and make a difference.
Conversely, I have been asked to support businesses that have specifically sought a woman; some employers recognise the genders approach work differently and place their own value on that difference.
It wasn't that long ago that OSH careers in the Middle East were open to male applicants only. Laws may change, but attitudes take much longer to catch up
The salary survey identified a clear advantage of moving up the IOSH membership grades. The greater our experience, the greater our worth. Women are more likely than men to take a career break or to work part time, which will affect their levels of experience.
Many OSH professionals have significant responsibilities, and make policy decisions that can change the direction of the businesses in which they work. We are often the only individuals with our skills set, and what the survey does not consider is how our salaries compare with those of other operational managers.
Career progression does not just happen. I have been the only female applicant for senior roles. Everybody should be confident in their abilities. If you expect to be treated as an equal, you will be; if you apply for a dream job, you might just get it.
As we move into leadership roles, we coach, we support, we manage; however, there are some men (and women) in the workplace who do not like to be managed by women, so institutional inequality continues.
Until we learn more about equality, there will continue to be men who talk over, talk for or interrupt women, but this is not always the prerequisite of men and we should all be respectful of each other.
If we believe this is important, remain professional, work alongside all our colleagues in the right way and treat each other fairly, we have the potential to continue to close the pay gap faster than other professions. All levels and both genders must work on this issue together if we are to eliminate the present differences.