Academic gender pay gap will take 40 years to close

25 May 2017 | last updated: 26 May 2017

It will take 40 years to close the academic gender pay gap, warns a new report from UCU. The report reveals that, in 2015/16, UK universities had a 12% overall gender pay gap for academic staff, compared to 12.3% in 2014/15 and 12.6% in 2013/14.

Compiled from 2015/16 Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data, the union says significant pay gaps at the top levels combine with the under-representation of women in senior posts to push up the overall gender pay gap in higher education.

The report shows that as seniority and salary increases, the percentage of women decreases. In 2015/16, universities used a 51 point pay scale which had proportionately more women than men up to point 43, but that reversed from point 44 onwards. At the highest points of 49-51, almost two-thirds (63%) of academic staff were men while just 37% were women.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'At this rate it will take 40 years to close the academic gender pay gap. The fact that women are under-represented in the higher management grades and the professoriate is contributing to the overall 12% gender pay gap for academic staff.

'Universities need to analyse their gender pay gaps by carrying out equal pay audits. We are now submitting local equal pay audits at universities and want institutions to analyse and address their gender pay gaps.'

Key findings:

  • The overall mean and median gender pay gap for staff on academic contracts is 12.2% (median) and 12.0% (mean)
  • The rate of change in the overall gender pay gap for academics has been glacial, standing at 12.6% in 2013/14 and 12.3% in 2014.15. If this rate of change continues it will take another 40 years to close the gender pay gap for academics
  • The overall gap for non-academic staff is 11.1% (median) and 9.9% (mean)
  • The median gender pay gap for academic senior management is 6.3%, but the mean gap is 13.1% - indicating a substantial preponderance of male senior managers among the very top earners within this grade
  • The widest gender pay gap of 10.7% (median) and 14.1% (mean) for non-academic staff is at senior management level
  • Higher education staff below professorial or function head level were paid on a single 51 point pay spine in 2015/16. Point 1 on the spine was £14,323 and point 51 was £58,754
  • At every spine point up to 43 there were proportionally more women than men (with equal numbers at points 38 and 41) but at the most senior points from 44 onwards there were proportionately more men than women
  • 62.6% of academic staff at points 49-51 were male, while 37.4% of academic staff at these points were female
  • 12.5% of all male academics were on points 49-51, compared to 7.9% of all female academics
  • Within the Russell Group universities, 13.3% of all male academics were on points 49-51, compared to 8% of all female academics
  • At professor level, less than one quarter (23.9%) of staff were women.

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