Gender pay gap in higher education shrinks

Official figures show gap fell 2.4 percentage points for full-time staff

November 20, 2015
Gender balance

The gender pay gap in higher education narrowed significantly over the past year, new figures show.

Information from the Office for National Statistics published on 18 November reveals that the women working full-time in higher education in April 2015 were paid 11.1 per cent less than men – 2.4 percentage points lower than the 13.5 per cent gap in April 2014.

For all higher education employees, including part-time staff, there was a fall of 1.3 percentage points, to 14.7 per cent, which compares with the wider economy pay gap of 19.2 per cent, ONS figures also show.

The pay gap for higher education teaching professionals also narrowed slightly, from 9.3 per cent to 9.1 per cent.

Nick Petford, vice-chancellor of the University of Northampton, who chaired a working group on gender pay involving employers and trade unions, said the latest figures showed that higher education is “making real progress in tackling the gender pay gap”.

“Major sector initiatives such as Athena SWAN and Aurora have kept women’s careers and the gender pay gap at the top of institutional agendas, and we hope that this continues to be the case in the years ahead,” Professor Petford said.

He welcomed the work of the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association in tackling the gender pay gap, which has included joint work with trade unions regarding surveys of equal pay auditing, a literature review on the gender pay gap and, most recently, an in-depth investigation of action being taken by higher education institutions to tackle gender pay gaps identified through equal pay reviews.

“With the conclusion of the 2015-16 final pay round, Ucea will begin further joint work in this area as a key theme in the trade unions’ pay equality claim,” Professor Petford said.

This work will focus on developing a more sophisticated analysis on the sector’s gender pay gap data, looking at gender pay gaps between job levels and information on occupational segregation using data drawn from the existing datasets, he said.

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