Gender wage gap closing, but not for degree holders

New research published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows the gender pay gap persisting in the UK.

Illustration of rising graph and women
Ahead of the proposed introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting for the UK's largest companies, it shows that on average, women in paid work receive about 18 per cent less per hour than men.

Gradual rise in pay gap over working lives

Digging down into the causes of the disparity, the independent research body’s study highlights a consistent, gradual rise in gender pay inequality for 12 years after the birth of a first child, resulting in mothers receiving 33 per cent less pay per hour than men at this point.According to the IFS study, The Gender Wage Gap, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the widening hourly wage gap is associated with many women’s reduced hours of paid work after childbirth.Women who work part-time lose out on wage progression, rather than facing an immediate pay cut when they reduce their hours.Career breaks also mean women who return to employment miss out on wage growth, exacerbating the gender pay gap.Twenty years after the birth of their first child, women have on average been in paid work for four years less than men, notes the study.

Gap most persistent for A-level and degree-holders

The IFS study also shows while the pay gap is reducing for younger women, it remains stubbornly high for mothers with A level or degree-level qualifications, maintaining the level now it was 20 years ago.Commenting, 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.”The upcoming autumn issue of Re:locate magazine will feature more of the latest news and analysis of data on gender equality at senior levels. Reserve your copy now.

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