Why a woman’s wage still comes second – the importance of income protection insurance for every wage earner
Why do we celebrate the role of females on International Women’s Day, but ignore the importance of the money they bring into a household year-round? Gender parity is still a way off and nowhere more acute than in the world of income protection insurance as data from protection insurance comparison provider ActiveQuote has found that just a third of inquiries for income protection come from women or are for women’s incomes.
The balance is tipping the right way, with female professionals starting to push for equal pay scales at long last. 47% of the of the UK workforce is made of women, and more females than ever claiming roles in core science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) roles more traditionally associated with men.
Despite this women are still struggling to claim their worth financially, however – not just in the workplace – more than half of us have never attempted to negotiate a pay rise, for example, and around two thirds of us still don’t see a need to protect the income we contribute to the running of our households on a regular basis either.
Lucy Roberts, Head of HR at UK comparison site ActiveQuote, looks at how the gender gap is still very much apparent in the world of income protection – and, more importantly, why this needs to change.
I know all too well how easy it is to put yourself second as a wife, a mother and a woman myself – let’s face it, it pretty much comes with the job. You put off getting your hair done because one of the children’s school shoes has sprung a leak and they need you to buy new ones. The cat mistakes a piece of Lego for a Dreamie (other cat treats are available) and the night out you’d planned with friends gives way to a hefty veterinary bill and you’re left nursing a poorly moggy, a battered wallet and a heavy heart on a Friday evening.
It’s fair to say that all of these things are an accepted and entirely routine part of a woman’s place in the modern home, as is her responsibility to contribute financially too. Indeed, most women today are more than happy to combine their time at home with life in the workplace, with many taking on the role of main breadwinner in the process.
Which is why the idea that women’s wages are still under prioritised compared to that of a man’s is so utterly unacceptable. New research from ActiveQuote shows that just 35% of those looking into Income Protection policies via the site are women, with the rest being men. And, while the number of men looking into IP has marginally increased between 2017 and 2019, the number of women has gone down.
At its simplest, income protection insurance covers your outgoings if you’re unable to work due to an accident or illness, or if you’re made redundant. In real terms, it takes away the worry of being unable to pay the bills at a time when you need to focus on your health, or on finding a new job.
So why are women still being denied or denying themselves that peace of mind?
If we think about this in light of the current threat of Coronavirus in Britain, for example, how many self-employed women in the UK have protected themselves against the possibility that they and their customers or associates are about to be quarantined for the next two weeks and, as such, might not be in a position to do business with them as a result?
Most of those working in the insurance industry will tell you the reason so many women remain without sufficient IP in place is largely down to our inability to let go of traditional mindsets.
While it’s true IP has traditionally been more expensive for women (as those more likely to claim on a policy) this has otherwise come back into balance in recent years after the EU Gender Directive was introduced in 2012 to prevent insurers using gender as a criteria for determining the price of certain financial policies
Which leaves me feeling a little sad here in 2020, that there are still so many hearts and minds to be changed regarding gender inequality in relation to IP. The good news, of course, is that’s all that is actually stopping us as women from valuing ourselves properly in terms of our financial position – not just within the home, but in the wider world too.
As insurers, brokers, comparison providers and more, my plea to you this International Women’s Day is, therefore, a simple one. Let’s work together to change these attitudes not just for the sake of women themselves, but for their wider families and the UK economy too.
Goodness knows we could do with all the help we can get right now!