Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gender gap

Yesterday the company I work for, Verkis, was the first company in Iceland to receive the PwC gold medal for salary equality. The process involved an audit of the salary system to seek out any difference in remuneration for work conducted between the sexes. The outcome was that less than 2% difference exists and this percentage is so low that it implies that there is no significant variance between what John and Jane are paid, provided their work related backgrounds are similar.

Now this is great news for Verkis and all of us who work there both men and women. Verkis is an engineering consultancy that employs approximately 310 engineers and technical staff and I can testify that everyone is taken on their own merits irrespective of their sex, pay-wise or otherwise. What is sad that although Iceland is pretty advanced when it comes to gender equality very many companies here would not be able to say the same, a fact testified by the fact that we are the first company to receive this level of the salary equality prize. The latest figure for the country as a whole that I could find was from 2007 when women on average made 15,9% less an hour than men while non-explainable differences in salaries are 7%. Apparently the worst gender wage discrimination occurs in the public sector which to me is truly amazing as it is effectively controlled by political puppet masters, the same people that pretend to champion equality.

I do not understand the need to pay women less than men for the same work. There is no way it can be worded or set up that would change this firm fast opinion.

The world economic forum reports on many interesting things, the gender gap included. In its latest report on exactly this Iceland ranks as no. 1 with a mark of 0,853 where 0 is total inequality and 1 is perfect equality. We have been no. 1 for three years in a row now, before we were no. 4. This ranking is not only in the overall category, we also rank no. 1 in all of the subcategories: economic participation, educational attainment, health& survival and political empowerment. Considering that although we are no. 1, we still have over 15% difference in wages and 7% in salaries, I shudder to think what it takes to get a zero mark.

If you are interested in where your own country stands in comparison to the rest of the world, here is a link to the report as a whole where you can select different countries to view if you scroll to the bottom of the section on the left:

If you are a bit like me and want to know who is the dunce I will save you going through the list of 135 countries – Yemen ranks at the bottom. This came as no surprise to me. I knew I guy who worked there for some months as a welder, joining together pipes in an oil supply line through the desert. As the country is war torn he was told to be careful of landmines. If he saw a procession of a woman, children, a goat and at the end a man, this was a sure fire sign of a land mine zone. The wife i.e. the woman was of least consequence, then the children, the goat and the most important the head of the family – the man.

When me and my family go out for a walk we walk side by side and our dogs run around our legs, sometimes heading the convoy and sometimes trailing it. But then again we have no landmines so we have never had to line up in order of importance. Not that I think our lineup would change much.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. Speaking of lineups, on that Gender Gap Index Greece falls significantly behind the English language contingents of this crew, not far behind the French and ahead of the others. Not sure what that means, but considering what else is being said about Greece these days, I'll take it as good news.

  2. I agree Yrsa - the fact that women are paid less then men for doing the same job has no basis in logic or reason. It's disgrace.

  3. I agree Yrsa - the fact that women are paid less then men for doing the same job has no basis in logic or reason. It's disgrace.