Lunchtime protest against gender pay gap at University of Reading

15 October 2018 | last updated: 10 June 2019

Women at the University of Reading will take part in an "unpaid women's non-working lunch" to protest at unequal pay at the university on Tuesday 16 October. The University of Reading has a gender pay gap of 19.6%, which means that women at the university are effectively unpaid for the rest of the year from Tuesday 16 October.

The lunch will take place on the lawn outside Whiteknights House from 1pm. Whiteknights House is the institution's main management building and, by holding the event on its lawn, the protestors aim to highlight the presence of the university's "unpaid" workforce to management.

The University of Reading's 19.6% gender pay gap is higher than the UK average for universities of 15.9%, calculated by Times Higher Education, and much higher than the average for UK employers  of 9.7%.

The University of Reading's submission for the Athena SWAN award in 2016 included a commitment to increase the proportion of female staff in management and leadership roles and to reduce the gender pay gap for all grades to less than 5% by 2020.

UCU says the university should commit to making additional payments to female members of staff if the gender pay gap is not reduced to 5% by the end of the 2019/20 academic year. In 2016 the University of Essex gave female professors a one-off payment to close a gender pay gap.

One of the reasons cited for gender pay gaps are fewer women in top positions. According to the most recent statistics, women make up 54% of total staff in UK universities. However, only three in 10 (31%) senior managers and just a quarter (25%) of professors are women. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of staff earning over £50,000 in universities are men.

University of Reading UCU rep Karin Lesnik-Oberstein said: 'The University of Reading has a significant section of its workforce that is effectively working for free until the end of the year. We will be ensuring management cannot ignore its women staff with our lunchtime protest.

'The university should make a really strong statement about its commitment to dealing with the gender pay gap by reaffirming its promise to reduce the gender pay gap across the institution to 5% by 2020 and commit to making payments if that is not achieved.'

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