The Pay Gap Bot

Image: Pawel Loj - Creative Commons 2.0

A year after thousands of UK companies were faced with having to start collecting data on their pay gap, the numbers are out. And rather unsurprisingly: the gender pay gap continues to be an issue across the UK. Especially in sectors such as education, finance and construction, with women earning up to 25% less than men.

The trend is the more you earn the bigger the pay gap. And with 41% of all women who work in part-time employment, these women face a pay gap more than double that of the national median of 9.1%.

Part of the issue is women are underrepresented in senior positions, and there are clear correlationions between lower pay gaps in companies with more women at the top. For example, The Guardian reported after the release of the data set that Phase Eight, a company with 1754 employees which of only 44 are men, the pay gap is so extensive women effectively stop being paid on June 14th.

For the national median, the date is November 10th. Meaning womens labour goes unpaid for 51 days of the year.

The hourly gender pay gap in 2017 was 9.1%, and has dropped by 8.3% the past twenty years. Some suggest one reason for this is the level of education for women has increased more than for men, but the past years the median gender pay gap for full time work has been rather stabile only dropping 0.3%. And for part time workers the pay gap has increased.

The gender pay gap over time

Data: Office for National Statistics

So how do we deal with this?

Shedding light on the issue is only a beginning. But all great things have a start.

So without further ado: Internet, meet The Pay Gap Bot.

Lately bots have gained a rather bad name for themselves. And justifiable so, especially in the spread of ‘fake news’, they and are more often than not associated with the far-right.

But bots can also do good. From bots used for transparency, such as the congress-edits bot tweeting out edits to Wikipedia done from IP addresses within the US Congress, to bots used to increase coverage of local news. And like the The Pay Gap Bot - to shed light.

By creating a bots based on research and real data, we can start to create a counterbalance to the army of bots spreading disinformation.

This bot is an attempt to increase public awareness how large this gap actually is, and create a resource to understand the impact this has on the economy. Using data from the Office for National Statistics, and calculating the value of the pay gap based on average full-time working hours and women in the workforce in full time employment, the bot tweets out the size of the gap since January 1st 2018.

The pay gap is based on the median hourly wage rather than the average, or mean, giving us a more realistic picture of the actual pay gap. The median, falling on the middle person of the range of employees, is more representative of the real wages earned as the mean can easily be distorted by a few high earners.

Occasionally, the bot tweets the day the female employees of certain companies stop being paid, and it alerts it’s followers on the day and the day before the national ‘Equal Pay Day’ on November 10th. As well as lets people know every month when they effectively work for free for the rest of the month.

It also interact with new followers, sharing information about the pay gap, as well as tweets back to mentions with the latest value of the pay gap. And like any good ally, it favourites tweets from other users talking about the issue using the #paygap hashtag.

Resources and inspiration: