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Glassdoor Gender Pay Gap Study Reveals UK Women Earn 5.5 Percent Less Than Men

The UK Office of National Statistics reports that the gender pay gap for all UK employees is 19.2% and is unchanged from 2014. However, simply comparing the differences in what men and women are paid is somewhat naïve since it does not look at equal pay for equal work. A new, multi-country study from Glassdoor® reveals the “unadjusted” and “adjusted” gender pay gaps among employees in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Germany and France. Using Glassdoor’s unique data set of hundreds of thousands of salary reports from employees online, the study goes much further than simply looking at average salaries by gender. In producing this report, Glassdoor has advanced the gender pay comparison by statistically controlling for factors such as employee characteristics, location, job title, employer and more. In addition, the study reveals what is – and what isn’t – causing the gender pay gap and provides policy recommendations to target these causes and help reduce the gap.

The report, titled Demystifying the Gender Pay Gap, reveals the gender pay gap is real and significant across each country, consistent with official sources. The study finds that in the UK on average, women earn about 77p for every pound a man earns. The study refers to this simple explanation of the gap as the “unadjusted” gender pay gap. However, to better understand what’s going on at the individual employee level, the study also reveals the “adjusted” gender pay gap by controlling for a wide-range of factors including employee age, years of experience, education level, location, job title and employer.

For example, in the UK, the adjusted gender pay gap is 5.5 percent, and while smaller than widely reported figures, it is significant a gender pay gap remains even after comparing similar workers down to the specific job titles and companies. In other words, a woman with the same job title, at the same employer, in the same location, with a comparable age, education and years of experience, will still be paid over five percent less than a man. This finding is consistent across each country the report studies.

Fig9_UK_Gender Pay Gap Bar Chart

Factors Contributing to the Gender Pay Gap

To better understand the causes of the gender pay gap, the study divides the overall gap 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 (64 percent) of the overall UK pay gap can be explained, while 36 percent of the overall pay gap cannot be explained by any factors observable in Glassdoor data. This means the unexplained pay gap may very well be attributed to workplace bias (whether intentional or not), negotiation gaps between men and women and/or other unobserved worker characteristics.


The study reveals that the largest contributing factor to the gender pay gap is explained by differences in how men and women sort into occupations and industries with varying earning potential. This finding is consistent across all five countries, and in the UK, it makes up more than two thirds (38 percent) of the unadjusted gender pay gap. Other third-party academic research suggests the occupational sorting of men and women is due partly to social pressures that divert men and women into different University degrees and career tracks, and to gender norms such as women bearing disproportionate responsibility for child and elderly care, which pressures women into more flexible jobs with lower pay. Less of the gap is explained by gender differences in education, age or years of experience (26 percent).

“Women and men tend pursue different career paths early in life and then sort into different industries and occupations, which, in large part, is due to a variety of societal expectations and traditional gender norms. This is the single largest factor we see contributing to today’s gender pay gap,” said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist.

How Countries Compare

See the full Glassdoor Economic Research report, Demystifying the Gender Pay Gap, including in-depth analysis of the gender pay gap in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and France.