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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

New analysis finds more than 80% of occupations have a gender pay gap

Rethinking pay negotiation and promotion could cut gender pay gap

New analysis from IPPR has found that more than 80 per cent of occupations pay men more than women, on average.

The new analysis, in a new IPPR discussion paper, The State of Pay: Demystifying the gender pay gap, draws on the most granular level of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) detail available from the Office of National Statistics, and suggests that, even when men and women do the same type of job (e.g. as pharmacists; financial managers; or van drivers) women tend to earn less overall than men.

This points to seniority as a critical driver of the pay gap: where men and woman have the same occupation, men are in more senior, more highly-paid versions of the role than women.

Men and women in supposedly comparable leadership positions are often doing quite different jobs – e.g.  women who are managers and directors are much more likely than men to work in health and social care, and much less likely to be a chief executive or a financial manager and director, where pay is typically higher.

Catherine Colebrook, IPPR chief economist and co-author of The State of Pay, said:

Eighty-one per cent of occupations have a gender pay gap. This points to seniority as a critical driver of the pay gap - for most occupations, men are in more senior, high-pay versions of the role than women.

“Most organisations pay men more than women on average. But the gap between men and women’s pay is generally smaller than the gap for the sector in which those organisations operate. This means that, even if all firms closed their gender pay gaps tomorrow, we would still have a pay gap at the societal, or whole-economy level. Therefore, firms can certainly help to reduce the pay gap, but they are not the whole solution to it.

The State of Pay makes several recommendations for how to give women better opportunities to keep pace at work with their male counterparts.

IPPR chief economist Catherine Colebrook said:

We need new ways of making sure women keep pace with their male counterparts on pay and seniority.”

Women are less likely to negotiate salaries when starting a new job and when in post, so employers could rule out the possibility of negotiation altogether, or make sure all employees earn at least as much as any new recruit on the same level.

Women are less likely to put themselves forward for progression opportunities, so employers could automatically consider employees for promotion after a given length of time in post, interview all internal candidates for vacancies, and encourage more women to apply for internal promotions.

Changing men’s working behaviour is a crucial component of equalising pay. Employers could offer paid paternity leave on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis, make jobs flexible by default, and encourage men to job share.

Reaction to The State of Pay: Demystifying the gender pay gap

Mary-Ann Stephenson director of the Women’s Budget Group said:

“This report and the first round of pay gap reporting certainly painted a depressing picture of workplace culture in today’s society, but on the upside, it also shone a much-needed light on the issue of pay inequality and highlighted several ways in which employers can start to address the imbalance.

“Closing the pay gap is not just about employers. We all need to tackle the unequal distribution of care work, the gendered division of labour within the workforce and ultimately, the type of work that we value and reward within society.”




The State of Pay: Demystifying the gender pay gap by Catherine Colebrook, Charlotte Snelling and Sarah Longlands is embargoed until 06:00 Thursday 10th May 2018, when it can be found at []. 


For further details or to interview Catherine Colebrook, please contact Florri Burton 07867 388895 / 020 7470 6154 / 


IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. Our mission is to open up opportunity, power and prosperity to everyone through conducting rigorous research and generating big ideas. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.