Female academics are still paid about £5,700 less than male scholars on average despite progress in recent years to close the gender pay gap, figures show.
An analysis of official pay data – published this week by Times Higher Education – shows that women on full-time academic contracts in the UK are paid 11.3 per cent less than men on average, with the pay gap widening to 27 per cent at some institutions.
Almost a fifth of higher education institutions have a pay gap of 15 per cent or more, with the biggest pay disparities generally found at older universities.
Once all full-time academic staff in the UK are considered, women are paid an average of £45,003 and men £50,715 – a difference of £5,712, according to data collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for 2013-14.
That represents a fall in the overall pay gap for full-time salaries between men and women, which was 14.1 per cent in 2005-06 and 15.6 per cent in 1999-2000, according to figures produced at the time by the University and College Union.
There are also now 14 institutions where female academics are paid more than men on average, as opposed to one in 2005-06 (see full table).
But Michael MacNeil, head of bargaining and negotiations at the UCU, said that progress to close the pay gap was still too slow.
“We need mandatory equal pay audits, an honest appraisal about the scale of the problem and then a concerted effort by all employers to implement remedial action to close the pay gap,” he said.
The Universities and Colleges Employers Association said the reduction in the pay gap was “positive”, but the sector is committed to “making further positive progress”.
Female professors also lose out in the pay stakes as they are paid 5.8 per cent less than men over the UK as a whole, according to Hesa figures. That deficit rises to 6.6 per cent in Scotland, 8.4 per cent in Wales and 10.8 per cent in Northern Ireland. It is 5.4 per cent in England.
Salary review: the widest gulfs
The biggest pay differential for professors occurs at St George’s, University of London, where women are paid on average 19 per cent less than men, while female academics at the medical school are paid 17 per cent less. A spokesman for St George’s said that it had made “considerable progress in appointing more female professorial staff”, but these new appointees will “generally start at the lower end of the pay scale”.
“New promotions criteria have been developed and will be in place for 2016 academic promotions to try to address the gender imbalance,” he added, saying that the high number of male professors as a proportion of total staff can “skew a broad gender pay comparison”.
When academics of all kinds are considered, City University London had the highest pay gap among larger universities with an 18.4 per cent difference – equivalent to £12,222. A spokeswoman said that City had introduced a new scheme to “make it easier to identify and control any gender anomalies in pay at professorial level” and a further equal pay review would take place this year.
King’s College London, where female academics are paid about £10,000 less than men on average (18.2 per cent), said that it is “working hard to understand the reasons for our gender pay gap”.
“We know that women are less likely to be mobile, less likely to apply for promotion and less likely to take on senior administrative roles,” a King’s spokeswoman said.
King’s added that it is “essential that there is equality of representation at all levels of university life”.
Royal Agricultural University, which has the largest pay gap for academics of any institution (26.8 per cent), said that its high number of senior male staff – as traditionally found in agricultural studies – explained its pay differences, but this gender imbalance was not so evident among mid-career staff.
The UCU and Ucea are addressing pay inequality together in joint work initiated as part of this year’s 2 per cent national pay deal. A working group involving union representatives and university human resources directors, which is chaired by Nick Petford, vice-chancellor at the University of Northampton, is due to publish a report this summer highlighting campus initiatives to tackle pay differences.