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New report highlights work in tackling the gender pay gap

UCEA’s new report, Taking action: Tackling the gender pay gap in higher education institutions, examines the extensive work HE institutions are undertaking to keep narrowing the sector’s gender pay gap, which currently sits at 14%*. 
The report published today provides the sector with valuable insights into now HE institutions’ gender pay gap action plans, both those in place and those in development, have been developed and the activities that they cover.  
The report presents the results of a survey of HE institutions from across the UK. Almost all institutions are pursuing interventions across a range of areas with nine domains of activity identified: recruitment, staff development, reward, addressing vertical and horizontal occupational segregation, flexible working, the work environment, family friendly initiatives and contract type. 
The report confirms that no one solution or set of interventions will be a ‘quick fix’ or be right for every institution. However, detail on a range of actions and useful findings are included in the report, including the beneficial involvement of different groups and stakeholders. While many institutions are at the early stages of evaluating the effectiveness of their interventions, actions targeted at progression and promotion processes gained a significant and immediate impact on the gender pay gap at some institutions.
Helen Fairfoul, UCEA Chief Executive said: 
“We are pleased to launch this new UCEA report, Taking action: Tackling the gender pay gap in higher education institutions, which we believe contains some really useful learning for all those interested in closing the gender pay gap. The report confirms that the vast majority of HE institutions have been pursuing interventions and doing so across a range of areas but that context and institutional distinctiveness will determine the focus of efforts. We also looked at involvement in institutions’ action planning and have noted a growing trend to involve staff networks, student unions and trade unions actively in development of the plan.
“We know that closing the gender pay gap is not a quick and easy task, with a range of complex factors at play. However, what we see from this survey and the magnificent response rate it achieved, is the commitment from HE institutions to make a difference. We also were delighted to see the large numbers now extending their work to look at ethnicity pay gaps and issues around the intersection of this with gender.”
* According to ONS ASHE data, between 2006-07 and 2016-17, the median gender pay gap in HE narrowed from 25% to 14%; the median gender pay gap in the whole economy narrowed in the same period from 22% to 18%.
This report builds on previous work and analysis looking at the both the gender pay gap and equal pay auditing in HE done in recent years by UCEA through New JNCHES.
UCEA’s infographics on gender pay can be found in the Communications materials section of this website.
For further information:
Please contact Andy Fryer Head of Communications and Membership ( or Marc Whittaker Communications and Events Manager ( on 020 7383 2444.