The gender pay gap in the media and technology sector

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There has been a lot of attention paid to the gender pay gap in the media and technology sector in part because of revelations about BBC presenters’ pay and the coverage of former China editor Carrie Gracie’s stand on equal pay.

The gender pay gap and equal pay are not the same thing, but unequal pay can contribute to the gender pay gap. Unequal pay is when women are paid less than men for doing the same job or a job deemed of equal value. The gender pay gap is about the difference between what the average woman earns in a company and what the average man earns. In fact the gender pay audits which have recently closed for the first year of reporting divide pay in an organisation into four bands and provide information on the median and mean gender pay gap, if there is one.

The gender pay gap generally can be caused by a range of factors, from a lack of women in the most senior jobs, lower bonuses for women, women being more likely to do jobs that do not attract the highest salaries, women being more likely to work in low paid sectors, failure to promote women or encourage them to fulfill their potential, unconscious bias, lack of senior flexible jobs and lack of equality at home meaning women carry the burden of domestic duties and therefore need greater flexibility, to name a few.

There has been increasing overlap of late between the media and technology worlds with the rise of tech companies which are keen to exploit news content to drive advertising revenues and with media companies now reliant on online models. Media companies often now compare themselves to the big tech companies, such as Google. Sky recently told that it sees itself more as a technology than a media company now and that it measures itself in terms of innovation with companies such as Amazon and Netflix.

Women in tech

So it is interesting to look at the gender pay gap across technology and media companies.

We know that technology has an issue with attracting women – hence the growing number of initiatives that target women and girls in tech. The figures reflect this. For instance, Apple has an average pay gap of 26%, which is driven in large part by a lack of women at senior levels – women make up just 16% of senior managers. However, they make up 43% of those at the lowest level and only around a third of middle managers.

At Google, women’s mean hourly rate is 17% lower than men’s. Only 22% of top managers are women, compared with 50% of the lowest paid staff.

On the other hand BT has an average gender pay gap of just 0.7% – with women paid more than men, although they receive less in bonuses. This is not so much because BT has a lot of women in the company. In fact, only 22.4% of senior managers are women and 22.9% of the lowest paid staff are women. At middle management level women make up  17.2% and 20.7% of staff. So the gender pay gap is not so much to do with equal representation in positions of power, but to do with women’s average pay within a pay band compared to men’s.

At Facebook, women’s mean hourly rate is 0.8% lower than men’s, although women only make up 29.5% of senior managers and 18.7% and 28.1% of middle managers.

The gender pay gap figures clearly reflect just a small part of the issues affecting women in the technology sector.


Meanwhile in the media sector, the BBC, which drew a lot of criticism over its presenters’ pay, has an average pay gap of 10.7%. 37.8% of senior managers are women.

At Channel 4 the average pay gap is 28.6%, although women make up 44.6% of top managers. At ITV the gap is 18%.

Sky has an average pay gap of 5.2% with 32% of senior managers being women and women making up around a third of employees at all levels.

In newspapers the figures are slightly higher. The Express has an average pay gap of 17%; DMG Media, the publisher of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Metro newspapers, has a mean gender pay gap of 19.6 per cent; and News UK, publisher of newspapers including The Times and The Sun, has a mean gender pay gap of 15.2 per cent, which rises to 24.8 per cent at The Sun and The Sun On Sunday.

A study by Women in Journalism last year showed just three national newspapers were edited by women and that between June and July of 2017, just 25% of front page bylines at national British newspapers were women’s and just 34% of senior managers were female.  The study said women tended to be given “soft” stories in areas such as royalty, showbusiness and health while male reporters were allocated the “hard news” on crime, politics and major incidents.

Best practice

Some media and technology firms are attempting to address their gender pay gap in various ways, from attracting more women to sponsoring them to setting targets for increasing the number of senior female managers to encouraging flexible working at senior levels.

Sky won Overall Top Employer Award in 2016. Read about how they are addressing the underlying issues linked to the gender pay gap here.

Vodafone won the Innovation in Flexible Working Award in 2016 for its global maternity programme. Read about it here.

Virgin Media has just launched a new pilot programme to increase the number of female technicians it employs. Read about it here.

Mediacom has been working to get more returners back to work. Read about what they are doing here.

To find out about your employer’s gender pay gap, click here.

*The mean hourly rate is the average hourly wage across the entire organisation so the mean gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between women’s mean hourly wage and men’s mean hourly wage.

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