The gender pay gap in education 2021

workingmums.co.uk looks at the gender pay gap in education based on the 2020/21 figures.

Picture of books and pencils in front of school board

 

Education has a 26% gender pay gap, which, according to the BBC, is the highest sectoral gap this year and, according to the FT, is an increase on 2018. This might be surprising, given the pre-dominance of women in the sector, particularly at the schools level. However, one of the main reasons for this is the gender pay gap among schools, which is in part due to higher numbers of women being in both the highest and the lowest pay quartiles, but also due to the high wage differential between senior leaders in multi-academy trusts compared to the lowest paid.

The Guardian reported in 2019 that almost half of the worst 50 organisations when it comes to gender pay are multi-academy trusts (MATs). The National Education Union has said that the median gap will not go down until the gap between chief executive salaries and teacher and support staff salaries is reduced.

The Guardian cited Wimborne Academy Trust in Dorset, where women’s median* hourly pay in 2019/20 was 53.4% lower than men’s [compared to 68% lower in 2018] and their mean* hourly pay was 29.6% lower than men’s. In part this is because women occupy 64.8% of the highest paid jobs, but 92% of the lowest paid jobs. The Trust says: “The mean pay gap and the quartile distribution reflects the fact that although the Trust’s CEO is female and six of 12 headteachers are female, proportionally more men are in the teaching and leadership roles in Wimborne Academy Trust than in the lower paid support staff roles, when compared to the distribution of women employees.”

When it comes to action, it says that, over the next year, the Trust will systematically review its employee lifecycle and then design and implement an evidence-based action plan to reduce the gender pay gap. This project will be monitored by the newly established Staffing and Remuneration Committee of the Trust Board. 

Also cited by The Guardian was RMET in Kent, where women’s median hourly pay is 58% lower than men’s [this was 66% in 2018] and their mean hourly pay is 41% lower than men’s. Women occupy 47.6% of the highest paid jobs and 93.5% of the lowest paid jobs. The accompanying report, as for some others in the education sector, seems more a defensive statement than about action, merely stating that women are more likely to be in lower paid and part-time roles.

In other trusts, there is more emphasis on action. At the Academy Transformation Trust in Sutton Coldfield, women’s median hourly pay is 25.6% lower than men’s and their mean hourly pay is 15.5% lower than men’s. Women occupy 67.5% of the highest paid jobs, but 82% of the lowest paid jobs.

Its action plan outlines the need for more robust monitoring of data relating to access to development and career progression, continued coaching of leaders in avoiding unconscious bias in recruitment and selection processes, the development of an Early Careers Framework of support for teachers who are newly qualified or in the early years of their career and the creation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working group. Not mentioned anywhere, interestingly, is flexible working.

At the Blessed Holy Family Academy Trust in Harrow women’s median hourly pay is 34.3% lower than men’s and their mean hourly pay is 14.1% lower than men’s. Women occupy 90.2% of the highest paid jobs and 92.4% of the lowest paid jobs. The Trust’s report states: “It is clear from our data that we employ a much larger proportion of females than males in all quarters, but particularly more men in the upper and upper middle quarters and fewer men in lower paid roles.” 

Its action plan does not really include any actions except to continue monitoring pay and to state that it does not believe women are paid less for equivalent work than men. It states: “This initial report, and the data it contains, provides a baseline for the Trust to compare to future years to identify any trends and whether or not the actions identified above are having an impact.”

At the Ambitions Academies Trust, women’s median hourly pay is 44.2% lower than men’s and their mean hourly pay is 23.1% lower than men’s. Yet women occupy 85.2% of the highest paid jobs and 65.4% of the lowest paid jobs. There is no analysis or action plan included.

Further education and higher education

The gender pay gap figures seem better in many cases in further and higher education. For instance, at Harlow College women’s median hourly pay is 11% lower than men’s and their mean hourly pay is 6.3% lower than men’s. Women occupy 43% of the highest paid jobs and 76% of the lowest paid jobs. The number of females employed by the College has increased by nine to 285 and the number of males employed has further decreased by two to 165. The college says this is typical of many Further Education colleges.  Its action plan outlines flexible working, enhanced parental leave and a wellbeing policy and it is  in the process of overhauling its Equality and Diversity Action Plan with a view to extending pay monitoring on the basis of Ethnicity. 

Meanwhile, at Oxford University women’s median hourly pay is 13.7% lower than men’s and women’s mean hourly pay is 20.1% lower than men’s. Women occupy 40.4% of the highest paid jobs and 63.2% of the lowest paid jobs. Women’s median bonus pay is the same as men. 

Its action plan provides analysis on the figures and outlines how it has been trying to close the gap. This includes mentorship schemes, embedding bias checks in the recruitment, family friendly policies such as a day one right to enhanced parental leave, emergency back-up childcare and adult care, a ‘speak to an expert’ phone line and a wide range of guides and webinars. It says pay gaps differ considerably across the academic divisions and that work is underway with divisions to analyse the gender pay gaps and establish any divisional-specific actions. 

The action plans states: “The University has sought to ensure that all aspects of equality and diversity are fully considered in its response to the coronavirus pandemic. Actions have been taken to mitigate the adverse equality impacts of the pandemic and the impact continues to be analysed.”

At Exeter university women’s median hourly pay is 20% lower than men’s and their mean hourly pay is 21.2% lower than men’s. Women occupy 44% of the highest paid jobs and 67% of the lowest paid jobs. 

It states: “Uneven distribution of men and women in different grades across the University remains the primary driver behind our gender pay gap. Women are overrepresented our ad-hoc/claims population (70%) and lower grades, while men are overrepresented in more senior, higher-paid roles.”

The university says it had already identified the need for radical action to safeguard against further growth in inequality prior to the pandemic and realises that Covid could worsen this. It set up a working group in 2020 and this and a review of detailed statistical analysis have identified a number of actions to improve gender equality and reduce the gender pay gap.

These include the introduction of the Adjusting for the Differential Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic policies for both Academic and Professional Services staff to mitigate any disadvantages in terms of promotion and progression which were experienced as a result of the pandemic. Other initiatives include the extension of Emergency Leave to 10 days in recognition of increased pressures on parents, guardians and carers, the development of a new home working policy, analysis of furlough data throughout the pandemic, consideration of the gender profile of the university’s workforce in developing savings plans in response to the pandemic and the promotion of the findings of the Gender Safety Group which aims to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse.

During the pandemic, the university has also extended its emergency leave allowance to support working parents and carers whose education and caring arrangements were interrupted. 

*NB The mean gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between women’s mean – average – hourly wage and men’s mean hourly wage. The gender pay gap includes a figure for mean hourly pay and for median hourly pay. The median gender pay gap is the difference between women’s median hourly wage (the middle paid woman) and men’s median hourly wage (the middle paid man).



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