Equalities Office pay gap row – what do the figures look like in context?

As Labour highlights the gender pay gap at the Government Equalities Office, Suzannah Brecknell takes a look at the numbers in context – and finds that while female officials in the education department earn £2 less per hour than their male colleagues, they still fare better than peers in other departments and sectors

By Suzannah Brecknell

08 Mar 2016

Women working in the Department for Education earn an average hourly wage of £20.54 - £2 less than their male colleagues who earn £22.30 on average.

There is a similar difference for staff working in the Government Equalities Office, which became part of the education department in 2015. On average, male GEO staff earn £25.33 an hour, while women earn £23.38.

Lucy Powell, shadow education secretary, described these figures as “deeply embarrassing” for education secretary Nicky Morgan, who is also equalities minister.

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The education department published these figures in response to a written parliamentary question from Labour MP David Henson.

The department’s answer showed that the gender pay gap in the education department has decreased over the last four years, dropping 8.7% in 2012 to 7.9% in 2016. The pay gap between full- and part-time employees in the department has also fallen, from 4.8% to 0.1%.

Across the civil service, the gender pay gap for all civil servants is 12.8%, according to latest figures from the ONS. The gap is larger for full-time employees – men on average earn 9.8% more than women when working full time.

Analysis by the Institute for Government (see graphic below) shows that the DfE is far from the worst-performing department when it comes to gender pay gaps. In the Cabinet Office, men earn on average 23% more than women, while at the Ministry of Defence the gap is 18%.

For senior civil servants, the IfG analysis suggests that  the education department has one of the lowest gender pay gaps, with a 3.8% difference between median earnings for men and women. This compares to a 16.8% gap in the energy department, and a gap of 4.9% across all departments.

The civil service also compares favourably to employers across all sectors. Research by recruitment company Robert Half suggests that the UK has a gender pay gap of 24%, which means that women are likely to earn £300,000 less than men over their working lives.

A DfE spokesperson said: “This government has gone further than ever before in tackling the gender pay gap. Only last month we unveiled a raft of measures requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap and we are extending that duty across the public sector.

“We have a world class civil service that is increasingly equal and more diverse than the majority of British employers.

“These figures show that we are closing the gender pay gap and increasing the numbers of women in senior roles in the DfE. There will always be more to do but we expect that trend to continue as we continue towards a truly equal workforce in all sectors.”


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