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New HE gender pay gap data report shows significant narrowing over the past decade and provides a valuable platform for future benchmarking

13 September 2016

EIS, GMB, UCEA and UNISON are pleased to release an advance version of a New JNCHES report taking a detailed look at sector-level gender pay gap data. This New JNCHES Higher education gender pay gap data report concludes over six months’ joint analysis and discussion of HESA and ONS data with all five sector trade unions and with Equality Challenge Unit input (1), fulfilling the commitment made in the New JNCHES pay settlement for 2015-16 (2). 
The report highlights ongoing improvements in the HE sector with gender pay gaps having halved over the last decade for both sector professional services and academic staff. The analysis of basic salaries collected by HESA reveals that the gender pay gap for full-time staff has narrowed for both academic and professional services staff groups. Between 2003-04 and 2014-15, the gender pay gap for full-time academics narrowed from 10.3% to 5.7%, while the gender pay gap for full-time professional services staff narrowed from 12% to 5.7%. Unlike the whole economy, gender pay gaps in the HE sector are not significantly wider when bonuses and overtime are included (3). The data show zero or no significant gender pay gaps for staff on the nationally-agreed spine points (4). While the report confirms an overall positive trend in HE it does also underline that further work needs to be done at senior levels to narrow the gender pay gaps.
The report recommends a set of benchmarks that can be tracked annually to assess continuing progress and the impact of actions at sector and institution level. These benchmarks were drawn from a sophisticated analysis of the gender pay gap alongside gender balance for different groups within HE, comparing them with other parts of the UK economy and using data spanning over a decade. 

This report builds on previous New JNCHES work such as last year’s Gender Pay Working Group Report (5) which examined qualitative information and presented case studies to highlight and promote effective interventions and practice. We have noted for example that successive years of higher pay increases for the lowest grade employees have played a role in reducing the pay gap, in addition to efforts to redefine promotion criteria and encourage more women to apply for senior positions.
The working group hopes that HE sector employers will be able to draw some additional insights from looking at and making use of the benchmarking data now available in this report. Interactive charts which accompany the report enable quick comparisons of gender pay gap and occupational segregation trends for different HE employee groups and comparators in the wider economy. Views will now be sought on the usefulness of the benchmarks with the aspiration being annually to analyse the core data and produce charts for the recommended benchmarks.
Helen Fairfoul, UCEA Chief Executive, said:
 “The causes of the gender pay gap are complex but this report provides an excellent and important view of the status of women in the HE workforce. It is important that we do not confuse gender pay gaps with equal pay because a pay gap is not itself an indicator of a failure to provide equal pay for work of equal value – where HE employers have a good track record - but, more often, of the different representation of men and women at higher grades or levels.

Donna Rowe-Merriman, Senior National Officer, Education and Children's Services, UNISON, said:
“It is gratifying that employers and trade unions have worked together so effectively to make this positive contribution to understanding the complexities that surround gender pay gaps in UK HE. We of course emphasise that it is not enough to examine the data but that organisations need to keep addressing the challenges presented with their own action plans to enable all talent to progress.”
(1) The five sector trade unions are EIS, GMB, UCU, UNISON and Unite and the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) also assisted the working group.
(2) The New JNCHES (Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff) settlement for 2015-16 enabled the establishment of a working group drawn from UCEA officers, representatives of HE employers and the higher education trade unions. The report has not yet been formally ‘signed off’ by all trade unions but this advance version has been released now to enable all the parties to seek views on the usefulness of the data and benchmarks.
(3) See Figures 9 and 10 of New JNCHES HE gender pay gap data
(4) See Figures 4 and 5 of New JNCHES HE gender pay gap data
(5) The July 2015 New JNCHES Gender Pay Working Group Report is freely available via the UCEA website 
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Notes for editors

HESA - Higher Education Statistics Agency
ONS - Office for National Statistics