*Chart by Gary Foster Skelton.
*Chart by Gary Foster Skelton.

Bermuda’s top female earners are paid much less than men in the same position, according to the latest job survey.

Women CEO’s earn on average more than $140,000 a year less than their male counterparts.

The gulf in pay between men and women is equally evident in other professions such as lawyers, actuaries and underwriters.

According to the 2013 The Bermuda Job Market Employment Briefs, women continue to earn more than men on the island.

But there is a huge gulf in the level of incomes between the sexes in the best-paid positions.

Economist Craig Simmons told the Bermuda Sun that the latest figures did not tell the whole story.

According to the report, the median gross annual income for women was $61,845 compared to $59,614 for men — making Bermuda one of the few places in the world where women out-earn men.

However, at the top end of the scale there are huge disparities. The average male CEO earns $351,563 compared to $213,731 for the average female CEO. Other pay differences include: general manager finance — $287,708 for men and $190,563 for women; lawyer — $209,279 for men, $160,647 for women; actuary — $189,857 for men and $153,600 for women; and underwriter $212,825 for men and $146,182 for women. 

Economics lecturer at Bermuda College, Mr Simmons, told the Bermuda Sun there is no doubt that women’s median salary exceeds that of men.  

“Where we get ourselves into trouble is interpreting the data.” He said of using the example of the CEO, where the average male makes $350k: 

“The median tells us nothing about individual incomes of CEOs or how CEO incomes are distributed.  

Incomes can vary wildly between people. The same cannot be said of height or weight or intelligence. 

“There are a number of factors that influence a CEO’s income or for that matter Joe or Janet Blow’s income.  

Just because two people have an MBA doesn’t mean they have the same MBA and therefore are likely to make the same income. Not all degrees are created equal.  

“I don’t mean to dismiss structural racism or sexism, but we need better data over an extended period of time before we can attribute differences in income to race or gender.” 

He added: “Before we begin interpreting income data, one would be wise to consider the adage that statistics are like bikinis: what they reveal is suggestive, but what they cover up is vital.”

Cordell Riley, managing director of Profiles of Bermuda, told the Bermuda Sun it was around three years ago when women’s median pay overtook men’s. 

“That shows that women have made great strides. 

“They have also made great strides in education, but at the executive level there’s still some challenges.”

He said there are several factors for this. The book Changing a Life by Slyvia Ann Hewlett, focused on women executives. 

Mr Riley said: “They focused on 10 women and what they found was those 10 women all had one thing in common — none of them had children. 

Sacrifice

“They had risen to the top but they had sacrificed having children. That was huge because men at the same level don’t have to make that same sacrifice.”

Mr Riley added that women who have children can be seen by some as having a “lack of commitment to the company. That’s extremely unfair as men do not have to make that choice”.

One solution, he said, was for companies to put in family-friendly policies that would not discriminate against women. 

“Men need to look after children too; men need to be involved in their lives too.”

Paula Clarke, CEO at Gibbons Company, told the Bermuda Sun women earning more than men bucks the trend for the rest of the world. 

“More focus worldwide has been given to be inclusive of women because the priority is to get the best person for the job, which is a change from 30 years ago, when it was an old boys’ network.”

She said progress is being made but at the top level “we still have a long way to go”.

Ms Clarke added it is easier now than in many companies for women to advance but much still depends on that business’ culture.

“That usually stems from the top of the corporation, the corner office, but a lot of corporations are looking to break down that barrier. 

“As more women move up the ladder, those barriers are being broken down.”