UCU expose gender pay gap in higher education

The University and College Union (UCU) has published a report, “Holding Down Women’s Pay”, which names and shames the UK’s higher education institutions which have the largest gender pay gaps, to mark International Women’s Day.

The report found that in higher education, female academics earned £6,103 less than their male counterparts on average. Only eight higher education institutions paid women equally or more than men, while 154 paid women less. UCU found that “the [pay] gap is larger at … Russell Group institutions”, and that although over half of all academics are women, only 23% of professors are women, implying that women are not being promoted to top academic posts.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “These colleges and universities should not have allowed such shameful levels of pay inequality to persist. It’s nearly 50 years since the Equal Pay Act came into force and they’re still flying in the face of it.”

The report ranked the higher education institutions with the largest pay gaps by combining five measures of pay gaps: pay gaps for all academic staff; early-career academics; mid-career academics; and two measures of pay gap for professors (pay gap and the ratio of male to female professors). Details of the methodology can be found in the report.

Based on this combined measure, Leeds was ranked 67th of 87 institutions mentioned in the report. A look at UCU’s online tool for higher education salary comparison, “Rate for the Job”, suggests that average salaries for all academic staff at the University is £42,875 for women and £49,923 for men, representing a pay gap in average salaries of £7,048.

A spokesperson for the University said: “We recognise the importance of equality and valuing diversity and are committed to ensuring that all our staff are treated equitably regardless of protected characteristics. We also believe staff should receive equal pay for work of equal value. To help achieve equal pay for employees carrying out equal work, the University’s pay system is transparent, based on objective criteria and free from unfair bias on any grounds.

“To avoid unfair discrimination and reward, we: maintain a systematic role analysis scheme which incorporates the principles of equal pay; regularly monitor the impact of pay policies and practices and take remedial action to resolve any issues identified; provide guidance for managers involved in decisions about recruitment, pay, benefits and promotions; work with trade union representatives to ensure equality in pay and benefits; and respond quickly to any complaints in relation to equal pay.”


Sam Robinson

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