The Gender Pay Gaps

Marlyn Glen

Equal Pay Day 7 November 2013

Even after over 40 years since the Equal Pay Act of 1970, the gender pay gap has remained with us and it continues to pervade every sector and every industry where it has been measured.

The existence of the gap has been known of – and experienced  - by very many women during their working life.

It is well known that its roots lie principally in the occupational segregation of women into a few groups of lower-paid jobs that disadvantage women by creating a gender skills gap , and the need to balance work with family commitments.

The TUC has just released “The Gender Job Split” that studies how changes in the labour market in the past 20 years have affected the occupational choices of young people.

It notes :

“Young women are now better qualified than young men “ but it goes on to record a familiar theme :

“Despite increasing educational attainment amongst young women, gendered differences continue to play out according to the field of study, with significant implications for labour market outcomes.

“Gender has been found to impact strongly on the subjects studied at both upper secondary and tertiary levels18, with women, for example, tending to opt for arts and humanities, men for science.

 “This is also the case for vocational pathways, with men and women tending to opt for gender-traditional apprenticeships.

 “This has limited the labour market gains of increasing educational attainment as typically ‘female’ subject areas tend to lead to occupations in lower paid sectors with fewer prospects of career progression.”

 On the subject of apprenticeships the same theme remains : 

 “There are similar patterns for Advanced apprenticeships, where those offered in health and social care, children’s care learning and development, business administration, hairdressing, teaching assistants and dental nursing are dominated by women whilst those in IT and telecommunications, engineering, electro technical, construction, vehicle maintenance and repair, plumbing and sporting excellence are dominated by men.

“These gender divides have serious implications for the labour market prospects of young women as they tend to be overrepresented in apprenticeship sectors with lower pay and worse career progression than those men typically take.”

The report found that three times as many young women in low-skill low paid jobs today than there were two decades ago .

 If we want the pay gap to close then we have to improve the range and the quality of jobs that are available to young women which comes with better training and better prospects and supported by professional advice on occupational segregation.  

A policy of “any job will do” is no policy.

The gap has been closing in recent years, which is welcome, but that closing refers to the headline figure.

This year the Equality and Human Rights Commission produced a report on the gap by industry, sector, and profession that is much more informative than the typical headline figure comparing the overall hourly earnings of men and women in full-time employment.

Below is a selection from their figures for the gender pay gap between full-time men and full-time women in the UK published last year.

There remains a great deal to be done.

Gender pay gaps

Corporate managers and directors 17.2 %

Health professionals    19.0 %

Teaching and educational professionals 7.4%

Science, engineering and technology associate 13.1%

Health and social care associate professionals 10.1%

Leisure, travel and related personal service occupations 15.2 %

Culture, media and sports occupations 9.9%

Engineering professionals 12.5%

Business, research and administrative professionals 13.1%

Manufacturing industry 20.7%

Financial and insurance activities 36.7%

Professional, scientific and technical activities 20.5%

Human health and social work activities 18.1%

Hotel and similar accommodation 10.6%

Food and beverage service activities 7.2%

The more people earn the wider the gap between men and women,

The gender pay gap amongst the lowest 10 per cent of earners was just over 6 per cent. Amongst the top 10 per cent of earners it was over three times greater at 19 per cent.

The gap by age group stands at just over 5 per cent in the age-group 18-21, expands to over 18 per cent for the 50-59 age group and falls back to just under 10 per cent for those 60 and over.



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