In light of the recent media coverage of equal pay, it’s interesting how gender inequality affects the early years. As a man I find myself in a rare minority in my workforce, and maybe that allows for certain objectivity. A monetary reward that goes up incrementally depending on age, experience, responsibility – and of course gender – is the norm for demonstrating the worth of what you do. I wonder how the pay levels of professions that are predominately staffed by women stand – I haven’t heard much on this in the media.
The early years workforce isn’t known for its gender diversity, in the same way it isn’t known for its sky-high pay. I don’t see many differences between a City trader and myself in our daily responsibility – in fact, I would argue that your average nursery worker, room leader, teacher or manager caries similar or greater levels of stress and accountability than many working in the financial sector. Other ‘caring’ professions, such as nursing or support for the elderly, would probably agree.
The early years suffers from a ‘second income’ status. It can be an opportunity to earn while doing a job that contributes, but it seldom commands a salary that would support a family of four. This speaks volumes about the moral fibre of those who spend their lives working hard for the betterment of others – as for the gender in the profession, what might that say?
Gender equality in the workforce isn’t simply about people doing the same job being paid differently – you just have to look at football players to see how disparate the situation is (Fifa’s prize money is £11m for the women’s World Cup and £437m for the men’s).
Look further and deeper and you see those who care for others are mainly women, who do the work for little respect and certainly low reward. We sociologically accept this as an extension of home and turn a blind eye to the area we would all most benefit from – our society. By investing in our children we create a better future – individually and as a nation.
It is strange that we place so much value on a human life, yet reward the professions who selflessly maintain and nurture it so poorly.