Gender pay gaps in the UK widen as one climbs the hierarchy of businesses

Occupational groups in the United Kingdom show relatively small gender pay gaps, with a few exceptions only. Out of nine groups analysed, only three showed double digit gaps, the Managing directors and chief executives being the most notorious and extreme, with an unmerited gender pay gap of 33.3%. Next in line are Sales and marketing managers (15.7%) , closely followed by Personnel and careers professionals (13.5%).

All remaining bulky groups, i.e. advertising and marketing professionals, graphic and multimedia designers, accounting associates, shop sales assistants and general office clerks show gender pay gaps of 6.5% or less, down to a negligible 0.5% gap on the office floor. In one group, i.e. Contact centre information clerks there is a gender pay gap of 4.6% in favour of women – noticeable, but not wide.

A tentative general conclusion therefore might be that gender pay gaps become more marked as one goes up the rungs of the business hierarchy in the UK.

A national average, compiled with 2013 data by Eurostat, indicates a gender pay gap of 19.7%. This figure squarely puts the UK at the lower end of national labor markets in the EU and Turkey when it comes to equal pay for work of equal value. Yet, it also hides from view the fact that in some professjonal groups and at lower rungs of the ladder the practice of equal pay seems to have taken root.

Where does the gender pay gap come from?

The gender pay gap is defined as unequal pay for work of equal value which is performed with the same skills and qualifications. This pay gap results from gender segregation attitudes and practices. These attitudes and practices reinforce the existing unequal development opportunities for men and women, as well as unjustified remuneration within occupational groups and professions. Note that the gender pay gaps portrayed below are for the analysed occupations and professions only.

Table 1. Gender pay gap for large occupational groups in the United Kingdom

Occupation Male Female Total Gender pay gap
  Median gross wage (€/hr) Median gross wage (€/hr) Median gross wage (€/hr) Difference
Advertising and marketing professionals 15.74 14.71 15.05 6.50%
Graphic and multimedia designers 15 14.02 14.86 6.50%
Managing directors and chief executives 35.33 23.57 33 33.30%
Accountants and accounting associate professionals 16.97 16.57 16.75 2.30%
General office clerks 12.14 12.09 12.1 0.50%
Contact centre information clerks 10.94 11.44 11.22 -4.60%
Shop sales assistants 9.66 9.51 9.51 1.60%
Sales and marketing managers 20.59 17.37 19.36 15.70%
Personnel and careers professionals 18.55 16.05 16.33 13.50%

Source: 2013-2015 WageIndicator United Kingdom web survey

The gender pay gap was obtained through a comparison of the gender-specific gross median wages and dividing the resulting difference by the male median wage. All occupational groups in the table have at least 10 observations for both male and female respondents.

What is the WITA-Gender Pay Gap project?

With Innovative Tools Against Gender Pay Gap – WITA GPG (January 2015 - December 2016) aims to make a significant contribution in reducing the large and enduring gender pay gap. It is made possible by the European Commission PROGRESS program Action Grant nr. 4000004929. One of the activities is to compare male and female wages at the level of occupational groups and release the results for publication at the national WageIndicator websites of all 28 EU-member states and Turkey, as well as dissemination though press releases.

More information about the WITA project

More information about Gender Pay Gap in the UK at