The education equality gap

In a country renowned for education and equality, it is shocking to find massive inequality within our education system.

On International Women’s Day, a day held this week dedicated to celebrating women and raising awareness of the inequality of women in jobs, the UCU released a report stating that higher education institutions and universities had significant gaps in the wages paid to male and female employees.

On average, men in further education are paid £1,000 less than their female counterparts, and in higher education the gap increases greatly to £6,103.

Both Cornwall College and Exeter University have been named and shamed in UCU’s report. Cornwall College has been ranked tenth out of the country for gender pay inequality in further education institutes, on average paying £1,608 less each year.

A spokesman for Cornwall College said: “Cornwall College Group is committed to gender equality and we are actively working towards closing the gap. It is disappointing that the figures from the UCU do not take into context the mixture and composition of our unique offer. As an organisation we do take the findings of this report incredibly seriously and are committed to continuing our progress in this area.”

Exeter University, reported to have a 16.7 per cent or £8,361 pay gap, said: “We recognise that, in line with the national picture, women are under-represented in more senior academic roles and we are taking proactive steps to encourage and facilitate career progression.”

The statement went on: “The UCU statement is misleading, in that it claims to highlight that women are paid less for doing the same job. The data on which they have based their calculation does not compare work of equal value, but instead takes an average across a range of pay grades. Our own analysis shows a far smaller pay gap across each pay grade, which we are working hard to redress. The University of Exeter values its many talented female members of staff.”

The UCU’s data states that only eight out of 162 higher education institutions pays their female employees equally or more than their male peers, at 154 women are paid less.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt commented: “Women remain under-represented in senior and better paid positions in both further and higher education. The pay gap for women lecturers in colleges is depressingly static and in universities the situation is even worsening despite promises from employers, in last year’s pay deal, that they would address this.”

Despite it being almost 50 years since the Equal Pay Act was passed, the pay gap still seems huge in the higher and further education sector. Hopefully now that these shocking results have been published, there will be new pressure to change this inequality.

Reported by Rosie Smart-Knight

BBC School Report