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UK’s Gender Pay Gap Shrinking, But Only Slightly

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Breaking news! The gender pay gap is shrinking.

A new study from Glassdoor’s Economic Research team, Progress on the Gender Pay Gap: 2019, reveals that although significant pay gaps remain between men and women, the pay gap has narrowed slightly in the UK, U.S., France and Australia, showing improvement since Glassdoor’s 2016 study. The 2019 study, which offers new gender pay gap data on Canada, the Netherlands and Singapore, is based on more than half a million salary reports shared on Glassdoor by employees over the past three years, and includes pay data down to specific job title and industry.

Today, the unadjusted pay gap between men and women in the UK is 17.9 percent, meaning women earn, on average, 82p for every £1 men earn. This represents a 5.0 percentage point shrink in the unadjusted pay gap from three years ago, when women earned, on average, 77p for every £1 men earn.

“Over the past three years, company leaders, politicians, celebrities and more have called for an end to the gender pay gap. Glassdoor’s comprehensive study put those words to the test to reveal that slight progress has been made to close the gap. Though a promising sign, it should not detract from the larger fact that significant pay gaps remain around the world, even after controlling for workplace and job factors,” said Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain. “Leveraging Glassdoor’s unique salary and pay database, we’re shining a light on the factors that explain the documented differences in pay between men and women and, perhaps more importantly, where unexplained barriers continue to slow the march toward pay equality.”

UK gender gap before after adding statistical controls

The Pay Gap in Action

In our Glassdoor UK salary sample, the average base pay was £39,740 per year for men and £32,659 for women. That amounts to a gender pay gap of £7,081 in base pay between men and women. This means that women lose more than £212,000 over a 30-year career — more than six years’ salary. 

Six years’ salary lost?!

However, UK women are not the only ones feeling the brunt of the pay gap. In the U.S., the unadjusted pay gap between men and women in the U.S. is 21.4 percent, meaning women earn, on average, $0.79 for every $1.00 men earn. Furthermore, of the eight countries in the 2019 study, Germany has the largest “unadjusted” pay gap (22.3 percent), while France has the smallest “unadjusted” pay gap (11.6 percent).

The Causes of the Gender Pay Gap Revealed

The pay gap can be divided into what can be “explained” due to differences in worker characteristics (e.g., age, education, etc.) and what remains “unexplained.” Glassdoor researchers found that the majority (61 percent) of the overall UK pay gap can be explained, while 39 percent of the overall pay gap cannot be explained by any factors observable in Glassdoor data. This means the unexplained pay gap could be attributed to factors such as workplace bias (whether intentional or not), negotiation gaps between men and women and/or other unobserved worker characteristics.

One of the most significant factors contributing to the pay gap is the industry and jobs that men and women sort themselves into, also known as “occupational sorting”.  This factor explains about 37 percent of the overall UK pay gap.

Take Action. Close the Gap

Given the current state of the wage gap, there are three areas to consider to help close gender pay gaps everywhere:

1. Technology

  • In the past three years, technology has come a long way to help close gender pay gaps
  • For job seekers and workers, there are now advanced salary calculator tools that help people ensure fair pay relative to their experience and local job market
  • For employers, there are pay audit tools to help companies discover where pay gaps may exist

2. Greater Salary Transparency

  • Greater transparency around pay can help eliminate pay gaps by making it easy to identify disparities and spark conversations with employers to ensure people are paid equally for equal work
  • Salary transparency, talking about pay and negotiating pay are also key

3. Policies and Programs

  • To provide women with more access to career development and training, such as pay negotiation skills, to support them throughout their lives in any job or field they choose to enter

 

See the full Glassdoor Economic Research report, Progress on the Gender Pay Gap: 2019, including an in-depth analysis of the gender pay gap across all eight countries.

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