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The University's gender pay gap revealed

Our research found that women in academic roles are paid 12 percent less than their male counterparts

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A Freedom of Information Request conducted by Nouse has revealed that there is currently a gender pay gap of 12 percent between academic staff. While female academic staff are paid £61,046 per annum on average, male academic staff are being paid an average of £69,406 per annum. The University classes academic staff into three separate groups for which salary data is provided. ‘Academic’ staff are those who both teach and research, for example those with job titles like lecturer, reader or professor. Research and teaching staff are those whose jobs are predominantly focused on research or teaching respectively. All data is accurate as of 23 February, and is based on FTE (full time equivalent).

This comes in just under the national median gender pay gap of 15.9 per cent, while in 2018 the UCU found that across UK universities, women’s mean hourly wage was 15 per cent less than men’s. However, the FOI data showed that salaries for research and teaching staff were significantly more equal, with a 1.9 percent and 3.9 percent gender pay gap respectively, which is significantly more equal than the national median.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) advises that “differences of five per cent or more, or any recurring differences of three per cent or more merit further investigation”, and therefore the pay gap within teaching and research staff salary bands is negligible. In response to these findings, YUSU’s Women and Non-Binary Officers, Imogen Horrocks and Rebecca Thomas, told Nouse that: “It is promising to see that the gender pay gap for research and teaching staff was significantly more equal but it is incredibly discouraging to see that the bigger disparity in the gender pay gap lies within the more senior roles at the University. While the 12 percent is less than the 19.1 percent gap shown in the 2020 Gender Pay Gap Report, both of these statistics have no place in today’s society.” “Something that is deeply troubling is the fact that in the 2020 Gender Pay Gap Report, success is measured on a basis of who has a lower gender pay gap. To say that a pay gap “compares favourably” is deeply troubling.”

The Women and Non-Binary Officers went on to say that the gender pay gap between academic staff was “not good enough” elaborating that “the University has committed to the Athena Swan Charter of which the fifth principle is a commitment to tackling the gender pay gap, and it is clear from this that more needs to be done to maintain their commitment. “Utilising the Athena Swan action plan is vital in tackling gender inequality in the workplace. But the University cannot stop there. We need to be having more conversations about the gender inequality present within the University, as it is not limited to the 12 per cent pay gap.”

However, this 12 per cent average annual salary pay gap is significantly lower than the 19.1 per cent mean hourly rate pay gap recorded in the University’s 2020 Gender Pay Gap Report, showing that academic staff face a significantly lower gender pay gap than women at the University as a whole. Nouse asked the University how they justify the 12 per cent pay gap between academic staff, and they told us that:

“We have seen some progress in the gender pay gap in relation to academic colleagues but recognise that there is more work to do in this area.

“We are committed to increasing our representation of women in senior professorial roles and we have already seen an increase in the proportion of women in Reader roles and other professorial roles when compared to 2019.”

The FOI data shows that for academic staff, the gender pay gap has barely fluctuated since the 2018/19 academic year. In 2018/19, the pay gap was 12.26 per cent, changing to 12.05 per cent in 2020/21. In the absence of a 2021 report, it is difficult to determine the precise root causes of the current gender pay gap for academic staff. But the 2020 report acknowledged that the two main drivers were that women were overrepresented in low paying roles such as student ambassadors, while they are underrepresented in higher paid professorial roles.

Although this remains the case, with the University employing just 330 female academic staff compared to 560 male academic staff, the FOI data confirms that the pay gap is nevertheless upheld in professorial roles (data is rounded to the nearest multiple of 5, due to personal data protection rules). In 2020, less than 30 per cent of Heads of Department were academic staff.

Moreover, data from the 2020 report revealed that academic staff in the highest professorial salary category, Band 3, faced a 4.2 per cent pay gap. If we consider this figure in line with EHRC’s 5 percent threshold as being immaterial, this suggests that underrepresentation within senior roles is the underlying issue, as academic staff receive similar pay within the same salary bands. The Athena Swan action plan also decrees that institutions should tackle the “absence of women from senior academic, professional and support roles’’.

The improvement in salary differences between male and female academic staff over the last few years follows the gender pay gap falling by approximately a quarter amongst full-time employees and just over a fifth among all employees across the UK. In 2020, the gap among full-time employees fell to 7.4 per cent, compared to 9 percent in 2019. So when it comes to the gender pay gap within full-time employment, the University is slightly behind the UK as a whole.

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