Young women lose out on £5,000 a year compared to men at start of their careers

A new report from the Young Women’s Trust shows women are starting working life at a pay disadvantage due to being funnelled into lower paid careers.

women working in catering


Young women are losing out on over £5,000 a year compared to young men because they’re being funnelled into low-paid jobs and sectors, and getting stuck at the bottom of the career ladder, according to new research from the charity Young Women’s Trust.

It says that, for young women aged 18-30, the gap in annual pay means that they earn a fifth less per year than a man of the same age and the gap grows as they get older. The Trust says the gap differs from the gender pay gap which only looks at the difference in hourly pay. It claims this masks the real divide between men and women’s pay over the course of a year which takes into account the effect of things like part-time work. 

The new analysis was led by economists at Braw Data based on the ONS’ UK Labour Force Survey. It shows that around one-fifth of the annual income gap between young women and young men is down to young women going into industries where pay is lower overall, or where the jobs that women do are lower paid. For young women, the sector that is the biggest driver for the gap is information and technology which has generally higher rates of pay and more men. Women are more likely to work in sectors such as education, health and social care, hospitality, support services and the arts which are lower paid.

The analysis shows about two thirds of the income gap comes down to women being paid less even when working in similar sectors and having similar characteristics to men – for example, due to working part time and having fewer avenues for career progression or facing more discrimination on account of having children.

The research also found that young women are more likely to go to university to secure a degree, but that this doesn’t translate into higher earnings. The data shows that if young men were as highly educated as young women, the income gap would be even bigger.

It adds that men seem to receive a higher premium for longer service than women which it says is likely to be because men progress more quickly than women and end up in more senior positions.

Claire Reindorp, CEO at Young Women’s Trust, said: “Focusing on the official gender pay gap, which is based on hourly wages and only reported on by companies of over 250 staff, offers just a partial view of pay inequality. In laying bare the gulf in young women and young men’s annual incomes, we want to encourage government and employers to recognise the importance of tackling inequality at this crucial early stage. That means supporting young women to progress at work and ensuring equal pay, as well as fixing childcare and making flexible working more available.”

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