Average gender pay gap falls to 18%


On average, women receive 18% less pay per hour than men, according to research by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Its research also found that this is a decrease from the 23% gap in hourly wages identified in 2003 and the 28% gap in 1993. However, this fall can only be seen among the lowest-educated workers, who have qualifications below A-level standard. The pay gap among those with A-level or degree qualifications has remained steady over the past 20 years.

The research also found that, over the course of the first 12 years following the birth of their first child, the pay gap widens to the point women receive an average of 33% less pay per hour than men.

According to the IFS, this may be attributed to women working reduced hours after starting a family, rather than seeing an immediate cut in hourly pay as a result of working reduced hours. Instead, women who work half time subsequently lose out on pay progression compared to men and women in full-time employment.

By 20 years after the birth of their first child, women have, on average, been in paid work for four years less than men, also spending nine years less in paid work consisting of more than 20 hours per week.

For women returning to work after starting a family, wages are on average 2% lower for each year spent out of paid work, increasing to 4% among more highly educated women.

Robert Joyce, associate director at IFS and an author of the report, said: “The gap between the hourly pay of higher-educated men and women has not closed at all in the last 20 years. The reduction in the overall gender wage gap has been the result of more women becoming highly educated, and a decline in the wage gap among the lowest-educated.

“Women in jobs involving fewer hours of work have particularly low hourly wages, and this is because of poor pay progression, not because they take an immediate pay cut when switching away from full-time work. Understanding that lack of progression is going to be crucial to making progress in reducing the gender wage gap.”

Ian Dowd, director at NGA Human Resources, added: “The UK is faced with a national gender pay gap of 19% which has provoked the government to introduce gender pay gap reporting. This is a welcome first step towards greater salary transparency, despite full openness still being a long way away. However, the gender pay gap isn’t just about top-line salary figures. Looking solely at the salary differential between men and women fails to tell the whole story and could be misleading, one way or another.

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“Organisations need to analyse their current position and develop longer-term solutions to address gender pay inequality. Frequently, the response to equal pay challenges are ‘spot fixes’, which rarely work in the longer term and often cause other problems.

“Organisations need to continually monitor the gender pay gap closely to ensure ongoing parity and to nurture a culture of diversity if they are to make any meaningful progress.”