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UK Universities Report Surprising Percentages of Pay Disparity

A number of top universities in the United Kingdom have found themselves at the center of controversy regarding the gender pay gap.


The average gender pay gap in universities across England is 18.1 percent. That is, on average, for every pound earned by a male employee, a female employee will only earn 81.6 pence.

The most disastrous results came from York St. John and Shropshire’s Harper Adams where women were reported to earn an astronomical 37.7 percent less than their male colleagues.

Harper Adams, which is an agricultural university, claims that the poor results are due to “historical issues of gender balance in certain employment sectors.”

In spite of this, the Royal Agricultural University reported a zero percent wage gap.

Out of all the schools in England, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London is the only institution that pays their female employees more than their male employees with an average gap of 1.9 percent.

To clarify, wage gap is not synonymous with equal pay. Equal pay for equal work has been a legal requirement in England for the past 47 years. There are many factors that contribute to the wage gap, including size of staff and gender disparity among the different positions within the company.

One reason for the large gap at these universities might be that there are more men employed in the upper-level positions while women may make up a majority of the lower-level positions.

York St. John’s explanation for the wage gap is that more than a fifth of their staff is “casual, low-paid staff,” three-quarters of which are women.

The University of Warwick has said that their 23.3 percent wage gap was the result of data that’d been skewed by low-paid service jobs such as housekeeping which are usually taken on by women.

Other universities are less defensive of their results and more focused on solving the problem. The vice-chancellor at Durham University, Stuart Corbridge, said that the university recognizes that the gap is a “serious issue” and that they are “committed to addressing it.”

Similarly, the University of Birmingham, which has a reported wage gap of 37 percent, described the issue as “an ongoing challenge” and announced that they are “strongly committed to removing barriers to equality.”

Despite the discouraging findings, the report remains hopeful that progress is on the horizon.

“Universities will soon be scrutinised like never before on this issue,” the report stated. “Since most of them will be covered by a new law that obliges all large organisations to publish their gender pay gaps by the spring of 2018.”

Featured Image by David Woo on Flickr

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