Gender pay gap to remain until 2069, report says

  • Published
Men and a woman with laptopsImage source, Getty Images

The gender pay gap in the UK will not close until 2069 based on current salary progression, research suggests.

Accountancy firm Deloitte said the hourly pay gap between men and women of 9.4%, or about £1.30, was narrowing by just two-and-a-half pence a year.

It also found men were paid more than women at the start of their careers.

It said more women should be encouraged into science and technology jobs, where salaries are more balanced but women make up just 14.4% of the workforce.

The Deloitte analysis, based on data from the Office for National Statistics, found women earn an average of 8% less in graduate starting salaries than their male counterparts across all science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects combined.

This compares with 9% less across all other industries.

Career paths

Among those professions with the most pronounced difference was health care, where women earned £24,000 on average in graduate starting salaries, compared with £28,000 for men - a difference of 14%, the report said.

But the Deloitte report showed there was no pay gap in starting salaries across medicine, dentistry, engineering and technology.

It added it was "too simplistic to explain the gender pay gap in terms of pay inequality", and that it was party due to differences in career paths, which are affected by academic choices and the subjects that each gender studies.

Emma Codd, managing partner for talent at Deloitte, said it was known that jobs demanding a "blend of cognitive, social and technical skills" were typically among the most highly paid, with pay inequality less in STEM-related roles.

"Therefore, if more women study STEM subjects and pursue related careers, they will increase their earnings potential in the early years of their working lives and, should they remain in their careers, the later ones," she said.

"This in turn should serve to reduce the gender pay gap. A great deal of progress has been made in the past half century, but we should not wait another 53 years for full parity."

Role models

Speaking to BBC Radio Four's Today programme, Helen Byrne, a mathematical biologist at the University of Oxford, said it was important for women to have role models in the STEM professions.

She added: "I think often children in schools don't really understand what it's like to be a maths professor.

"How can you use your maths, physics, chemistry, different disciplines, what does that look like?

"What I do isn't what I imagined a mathematician did when I was at school. It's much more fun."

A government spokeswoman said: "The gender pay gap is the lowest on record but we are committed to eliminating it completely in a generation.

"We're taking action to require businesses to publish their gender pay gaps for the first time ever from April next year and we agree that getting more girls into STEM subjects can play a part.

"We are continuing to encourage more girls to study these subjects and last year, 12,500 more girls sat A-Levels in STEM subjects compared to 2010."