Closing the Gap? Women's Pay in 2008

Read the article on “Closing the gap? Women's pay in 2008” at The gender pay gap more than trebles when women reach their 30s, according to a new report.


The gender pay gap more than trebles when women reach their 30s, according to a new report. 

The report Closing the Gender Pay Gap, published on the eve of the 2008 TUC Women's Conference, says that adult women in all age groups earn less than men of the same age. The sharpest increase in the gender pay gap occurs when women reach their 30s. The difference between men's and women's full-time earnings rises from 3.3 per cent for women aged 22-29 to 11.2 per cent for women aged 30-39.


Several causes are cited for the gender pay gap, including the concentration of women in low-paid jobs such as childcare and cleaning, the undervaluing of women's skills and the employment penalty for mothers. This 'motherhood penalty' partly explains why the gender pay gap increases so rapidly for women in their 30s.


The report also says that women are twice as likely to be poor as men. Over one in four women (27 per cent) are classified as poor, by being in the lowest earning bracket, compared to just 13 per cent of men. The average weekly disposable income for women is £127, £85 less than men.


A lack of quality, well-paid work is cited as one of the main causes of women's poverty, as nearly half of all part-time jobs are low paid. Women working part-time earn nearly 40 per cent less per hour than men working full-time. With 7.5 million part-time workers, Britain has one of the highest proportions of this type of work in Europe, and more than three-quarters are female.


  • In the UK in 2007, the full time pay gap was 17.2% while the part time pay gap was 35.6%
  • The UK pay gap is a third higher than the EU average
  • Women are four times as likely than men to work in part-time jobs
  • Of the largest EU member states, only Germany has a bigger pay gap then the UK
  • The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) calculated that over the course of her working life, the average woman working full time would lose a total of £330,00 (gross) due to the gender pay gap.
  • Across the UK the pay gap shows a tendency to be higher in the Southern regions, with the biggest gap being in London, whilst the smallest is in Northern ireland.
  • The gender pay gap is larger in the private sector for both full-time and part-time work.

Research undertaken for the EOC in 1998 on graduate pay showed the following:

  • Regardless of the subject, men were earning more than women with degrees in the same subject
  • Women with firsts earned less than men with firsts. The pattern repeats itself for 2.1s, 2.2s and so on.
  • Regardless of industry male graduates earned more than women in the same industry
  • Regardless of occupation, male graduates earned more than women in the same occupation.

All figures are from the TUC report 'Closing the gap? Women's pay in 2008'.(PDF Download)