University gender pay gap narrows

Out-Law News | 03 Apr 2019 | 3:26 pm | 2 min. read

It will take time for universities to pay men and women equally, an expert has said, although the latest data show that there has been a narrowing of the gender pay gap (GPG).

The overwhelming majority of UK universities are paying male staff more than female staff, latest figures show, although the GPG has narrowed from 15.3% to 13.7% between 2017 and 2018.

Information filed by universities to the government’s gender pay gap service ahead of the public sector filing deadline of 30 March 2019 shows that more than 90% pay men more than women, although a handful have no pay gap or pay women more than men.

Employment law expert Helen Corden of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said it would take some time for universities to close the GPG.

“As with other sectors, the gaps in the university sector within particular institutions have remained relatively static and, in some cases, have increased. This is predominantly due to the fact that it will take time for an institution’s action plan to take effect,” Corden said.

“For example, the lack of female representation within the professoriate is a contributing factor to many institution’s gaps. With a limited pool to draw from, it will take time to increase female representation at this level and achieve sustainable change,” Corden said.

“Institutions should therefore be focusing on their action plans and, for example, in the first instance ensuring that they are monitoring their pipeline of talent and ensuring barriers to progression, especially into the more heavily male dominated senior roles such as professor, are eliminated,” Corden said.

Corden said universities also needed to look beyond their academic staff when it came to the GPG.

“At the opposite end of the spectrum, universities will also have to consider how they can attract more males into traditional female roles, such as cleaning and catering. For those institutions which don’t outsource their facility management services the large number of women occupying these roles will also impact on their gap,” Corden said.

“Again, while this remains the case it is difficult to see how gaps can reduced in anything other than the long term. However, action plans can be developed and progressed to ensure that all possible steps are being taken to address these issues,” Corden said.

Analysis of the data by the BBC showed several universities had a GPG of more than 25%.

Earlier this year the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) published a report examining the work higher education institutions were doing to cut the GPG in the sector.

Under the GPG reporting regulations, which came into force in April 2017, public, private and voluntary sector organisations with 250 employees or more are required to publish GPG data for their organisation. Data must be published within a year, meaning the data now being analysed are for 2018.

Across the whole of the public sector, the median GPG in 2018 was 14.2%, a little higher than 2017’s 14%, while over 88% paid men more than women, according to analysis by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The CIPD also said the average GPG had increased by 0.4% across the wider education sector.