UCU: wage audits to help close gender gap

Recent research carried out by the Times Higher Education Magazine found female academics are still paid on average £7,500 less than their male colleagues.

While the research suggests that some progress has been made since the last full audit of 2005-06, the data indicates a gender pay gap is still prevalent across academia. This follows the UK’s national trend of female academics being less likely to move institutions or apply for promotions.

At UEA, on average, the gender pay gap is 11% with female colleagues earning £3,569 less than their male counterparts. The widest gap can be found within the University of London where some colleges pay female staff 19% less when comparing the total academic staff.

At the highest level, female professors also lose out, earning on average 5.8% less than male professors across departments. This average rises to 10.4% in Northern Ireland.

However, in some institutions the gender gap has actually flipped, with 14 higher education institutions in the UK where women are actually earn more than men. All of which specialise in the Arts and Humanities.

The University and College Union (UCU) responded that the progress being made to close the gender gap was going too slow. The Union has called for mandatory pay audits to be carried by each institution to commit all employers to address the issue. Enforced pay audits would hopefully highlight specific structural and practical which act as barriers for gender pay equality.

UCU also called for more campus-based initiatives to promote career progression amongst women.

However, some institutions have pointed out that female appointees are more likely to start at a lower level, which can lead to misleading overall figures.

Most universities across the UK have responded stating they are working to improve this issue.


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James Chesson

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January 2022
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