Equal Pay Act–40 years on

I’m in Athens today, delivering a session to mark the Gender-IT project, funded with support from the European commission.  I’m delighted to be speaking at this conference, and I’m speaking about something that I feel really strongly about.  The Gender pay gap.

Working women all owe these ladies a huge debt of gratitude.


These, women were employed by Ford to stitch car seat covers together.  Their job was classified as unskilled, and therefore not applicable for pay on par with their male colleagues on the shop floor.  in June 1968, they went on strike for equal pay.

Their actions led to the 1970 Equal Pay Act which was  subsequently adopted across Europe and the rest of the world.  It paved the way for women like me to pursue the careers we wanted to, in traditionally male environments.

And their action inspired the film, Made in Dagenham which tells the story of their actions and their resulting victory in  getting their pay brought closer in line to male pay.  A victory for female workers in the UK at the time.

But with the UK joining the EEC in 1972 things moved forwards.  The 1975 Equal pay directive was agreed across Europe and the UK became subject to European laws.

But with women across the UK still earning 18% less than their male counterparts, we still have a long way to go for true parity in salary, but transparency in salaries would bring a much greater awareness of the pay gap.  From 2013, all companies with 250 staff or more will face prosecution if they don’t reveal their pay gaps, so larger companies will have to move closer to equal pay for men and women.

But these female machinists who held out for fair pay and started to change the pay differential is an inspirational story for me.  Their story shows that you ‘can’ change things if you believe in yourself and stick to your beliefs…

But, we still have ‘such’ a long way to go…

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  1. Pingback: Looking at the Gender pay gap « Eileen's Social Technology blog

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