Home Facebook company Twitter Bot highlights the gender pay gap, one company at a time

Twitter Bot highlights the gender pay gap, one company at a time


Every International Women’s Day, photos of smiling women continuously appear on social media alongside testimonials from brands keen to show their support for gender equality.

This week, however, the stream was interrupted by a Twitter account that spat out data on pay gaps from businesses, schools and nonprofits.

The account, @PayGapApptargets companies in Britain, where the public has access to mountains of data on employer pay gaps and where men working full-time earned 7.9% more than women from April 2021.

Whenever a UK university or hospital promoted International Women’s Day on Twitter this week with certain hashtags or hashtags, including #IWD and #BreakTheBias, the pay gap account automatically retweeted the message with a note on the median hourly wage of women employed at the organization compared to that of men.

Francesca Lawson, a writer and social media manager in Manchester, England, created the automated account, or bot, with her partner, Ali Fensome, a software consultant.

“The bot exists to empower employees and members of the public to hold these companies accountable for their role in perpetuating inequality,” said Ms Lawson, 27. pay gap.”

Since 2018, the British government has required companies with 250 or more employees to declare the differences in pay between men and women each year. The reports are publicly available at a searchable government website.

Ms Lawson said she created the Twitter account so that the public could retrieve this information more easily. “For him to have influence, people have to be able to find him,” Ms Lawson said.

On Wednesday, the day after International Women’s Day, the pay gap account had more than 205,000 followers. Some organizations had deleted tweets that the pay gap account had highlighted, while others responded with their plans to address the pay gap.

English Heritage, a charity that runs historic sites such as Stonehenge, responded to a memo saying its female workers were paid 3.9% less than men with a connection to his report on data, as of April 2020.

“Since then, we have worked hard to reduce our pay gap and it is closing,” English heritage said on Twitter. “But no matter how small, a gap is still a gap and the charity is committed to closing it.”

The pay gap account highlights data on median hourly earnings, but UK companies are also required to provide information on gaps in average bonuses. Some companies also voluntarily provide more data and context in their reports.

Australia and Germany also ordered companies to report their pay gaps, but there was no comparable requirement for companies in the United States, where women’s annual earnings were 82, 3% of those of men in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The gap is even wider for black and Hispanic women.

Ms Lawson said she hoped the popularity of her account would show there was a demand for more data like this. “I hope other governments will want to start mandating the reporting of this data,” she said.

The couple first created the account the weekend before International Women’s Day in 2021 and used it as a test to see what worked and what didn’t. Now they’re trying to figure out how to best use the attention the account garnered to promote other inequality-related issues. Ms Lawson said she would like to see copycat efforts.

“The more people there are doing this job,” she said, “the less places there are for companies to hide.”