It’s long been said that men are from Mars and women from Venus. Iain Bate explores the findings from the latest Pf survey to establish if, in pharma at least, the sexes really are worlds apart.
For decades studies have been evaluating whether men or women make the better boss or employee. Questions have also been asked time and again about who works harder or more efficiently with the resulting arguments commonplace in boardrooms, bedrooms and everywhere else in between. And, like every other industry, the world of pharma has not been immune from the debate. Now in its tenth year, Pf’s annual Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey provides a confidential way for medical sales professionals to express what they really think of working within the UK pharmaceutical industry, and provides a useful benchmark of field-force remuneration. Once again, this year’s survey shows that the difference between men and women is not as clear as the X and Y chromosomes that separate us.
In 2007, Total Work, Gender and Social Norms, a study from the US National Bureau of economic Research, by Michael Burda, Dan Hamermesh and Philippe Weil, aimed to put an end to the age-old argument of who actually works harder. Although on the surface the majority of respondents claimed that women work harder than men, the survey found that across northern Europe and America the total workload – combining activity at work and at home – is now shared almost equally.
There are reportedly just 78 genes that separate men from women. But the feedback from the Pf survey would suggest masculine and feminine thinking is far closer together. Women slightly outnumber men in the survey accounting for 53% of respondents. They also outnumber male counterparts in almost every age group as well – a surprising statistic considering it’s usually females who sacrifice, or at least put their careers on hold, when starting a family. This social norm is reflected with the only age category in the survey where men outnumber female counterparts by almost 2:1 is those aged 55 or over.
The pay gap
Pay discrimination has always been a major issue and one which campaigners have tried to balance for decades. On the 1st October 2010, the Equality Act 2010 came into force. The brainchild of Harriet Harman and one of the Labour Party’s 2005 manifesto commitments it was supposed to finally bridge the gap in salaries between men and women. Forging together nine different laws, including the Equal Pay Act, the legislation gives the Government the power to require large private sector companies with more than 250 staff to establish whether there is a pay gap and to publish their findings.
But so-called ‘gagging clauses’, which stopped people from discussing their salary with colleagues, remained and several other provisions were left out of the Act, including the gender pay audit.
The Act was supposed to finally end the years of discrimination women have faced – particularly in respect to pay. However, if anything, the survey reveals the pay gap is actually increasing. In last year’s survey, the pay difference between the combined median salaries of medical representatives, hospital specialists, NHS liaison officers and first-line managers was £1,539. But that figure has now leaped to £4,000 in the space of 12 months See figure 1).
Despite the pay gap increasing, women are again more satisfied with their salary than men with more than half (51%) of female respondents admitting to being happy with their remuneration. Needless to say the amount of men who said they were satisfied with their annual remuneration increased from 46% to 49%. But more surprisingly is that 61% of women believe they are on an appropriate salary, compared with 57% of men – maybe the Government’s ‘gagging’ clauses remained for a reason…
Experience and expectations
Although there are more men within the medical sales industry aged 55 and over than women, it is the fairer sex that has more experience within the industry in the early stages of their careers (see figure 2). More than double the amount of women (14%) have up to four years experience in the trade. Women who have worked within the sector for between four and eight years also marginally outnumber men. But more than three-quarters of male respondents said they have eight years of more total experience, compared with 67% of women.
When analysing the amount of time in a person’s current role, it would suggest that the Equality Act is bridging any divide or favouritism towards a certain sex. Exactly a quarter of men have been with their current employer for less than a year with women only one per cent behind. Results also found that employers would now seem to favour an evenly balanced workforce of men and women. In fact, more than a third of both men and women (37%;35%) have been in their current role for between two and eight years. Over that, 17% of men and 14% of women say they have been employed for nearly a decade by the same company.
Often accused by women as having commitment issues, it would seem men do have itchy feet after all with 40% admitting to wanting to move company or position within the next 12 months (see figure 3). More than a third (35%) of women also admit to considering a change of employer or role by this time next year. But a higher number of women (59%)compared to men (53%) said they were happy to stay with their employer and within their existing role.
What really matters
In the current economic state it’s no surprise that both men and women claimed that their salary was the main motivational factor whilst at work (see figure 4). With pharma companies still content on cutting budgets and wielding the axe on sales teams it’s also of little shock that job security is now the second most important factor for employees within the industry. Interesting when you consider in the 2009 survey job security just managed to make the top-twenty motivational factors. The number of redundancies has obviously taken its toll on all respondents within the last twelve months with more people than ever keen to hold on to their job.
Women put a greater emphasis on work-life balance than men who said the relationship with their immediate manager was of more importance. This opinion again may reflect a more maternal instinct and a willingness to find the right balance between time spent with the family at home and at work. Men also said that company culture was of more importance than women with females having a greater belief in products than male counterparts.
Where satisfaction within the workplace is concerned there is no separating men and women. Both sexes said that a belief in products, relationship with manager, accountability, autonomy and pension scheme were the top-five satisfying factors. As the survey suggests, men and women have never been more similar…