Cambridge University reveals 15% gender pay gap

Top universities report big disparity between male and female employees’ earnings

Oxbridge colleges and universities across England are displaying huge variations in the way they reward female members of staff, according to data released to the government as part of the gender pay gap audit.

The University of Cambridge is the latest university to submit its records, revealing a 15% gap in median hourly pay between men and women on the university’s staff – including non-academic employees.

Cambridge’s top 25% pay bracket contains approximately two men for every woman. But the bottom pay bracket shows a reversal, with approximately two women for each man among the lowest 25% of earners.

Prof Stephen Toope, Cambridge’s vice-chancellor, said the university’s progress in closing the gender pay gap was slower than he would have liked.

“Our figures show there is more work for us to do. We are committed to taking action to close the gender pay gap as quickly as possible,” Toope said.

“We need to promote access throughout the university, and at all levels – encouraging more women into professorships and positions of senior leadership, and finding and promoting talent in other traditionally under-represented groups.”

Oxford university subsequently reported similar figures, with a university-wide median gender pay gap of just under 14%.

“The lack of women occupying senior roles in universities remains a challenge to the higher education sector. Oxford, while an exceptional institution, is no exception when it comes to gender equality,” said Oxford’s vice-chancellor, Louise Richardson, in presenting the data

The figures from individual Oxbridge colleges – reported separately from staff employed directly by Oxford and Cambridge – showed dramatic variations.

New College, Oxford – established in 1379 – is among the worst offenders in higher education that have published so far, with female staff earning 24% less in median hourly pay than their male colleagues.

New College’s analysis attributed the wide gap to the large proportion of women employed in its “domestic” department, earning the lowest hourly pay. But it also said women were “less likely to take on the highest-earning roles” internally.

“We are confident that men and women are paid the same for doing the same job at New College,” the college said.

“However, men and women are often employed in different roles across our organisation, creating a gender pay gap. We are actively exploring steps to reduce the lack of female representation across roles of different seniority and encourage a diverse applicant mix for new job openings.”

St Hilda’s College – founded in 1893 and Oxford’s last women-only college until 2008 – reported a median hourly pay gap of 10.5%. But Emmanuel College, Cambridge, did slightly better with a median pay gap of 10%.

Among other universities that have reported, Royal Holloway, University of London, showed the biggest pay gap so far, with women earning 34% less in median hourly pay than men.

At Royal Holloway nearly three-quarters of employees at the bottom of the pay scale are women. The average median hourly pay for men was nearly £23, while for women it was £15.

Royal Holloway blamed the wide gap on the pay rates for casual workers, mainly female students, who made up the bulk of its lowest-paid staff.

The figures will come as an embarrassment for universities that have been disrupted by strikes, in protest at proposals likely to make staff pensions more volatile and less rewarding.

Among Russell Group universities that have reported, Nottingham University had a median pay gap of more than 20%, while at Liverpool University women were paid 19% less than men for every hour worked.

Janet Beer, Liverpool’s vice-chancellor, said her university had made “great strides” in gender equality but was “at the start of a journey to achieve a sustainable, longer-term approach to the gender pay gap”.

A highlight for gender pay equality came from the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, which had no median pay gap between men and women.

Additional reporting Giacomo Boscaini-Gilroy


Richard Adams and Pamela Duncan

The GuardianTramp

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