March 29, 2018

Measuring the gap – update

The full report on gender pay gap at Warwick can be read here.

The first blog that I wrote on joining Warwick was about the gender pay gap and as we prepare to make our first statutory gender pay report as required under the provision of the 2010 Equality Act, it seemed a good time to return to this issue. And of course, having been here for 18 months, I’ve now got a much clearer idea of how our processes work and what’s being done to address this and other related issues.

Gender Pay
The new reporting requirements on gender pay mean that we provide high level information on pay levels and distribution for female and male staff – and across the UK, employers have started providing this information with the deadline for submission towards the end of March. And of course the broader issue of gender pay differentials has attracted considerable interest in recent months. We’re probably all familiar with the furore over gender inequalities in pay at the BBC while data from other companies has highlighted some equally dramatic differences in pay between men and women. Organisations as diverse as the Bank of England, Shell, Ladbrokes Coral and the Department of Health are reporting differences in average hourly pay that are comfortably into double digits while some airlines have reported one of the differentials as high as over 50% largely because of the relatively high salaries earned by pilots who are dominantly male.

The airlines example highlights one of the challenges associated with a reliance on headline figures across the workforce. The factors behind gender pay gaps are hugely complex which makes it hard to look at this issue from a generalist perspective. The University’s own figures point to a significant gap in average hourly pay between men and women overall.

Equal Pay
In trying to understand the source of differentials, a quick look at pay differences by grade shows that at levels 1 to 8, there is virtually no difference. As can be seen below, only at level 9 is there evidence that men are paid significantly more than women.

Gender pay

Grade 9 covers Professors and very senior professional staff. The differential here is marked but has fallen in recent years, in part because of a rigorous programme of equality adjustment each year as part of the review of senior salaries.

The problem that faces the University of Warwick – and indeed many other organisations – is not so much a failure to pay equally to staff at the same level, but rather a skew in the gender distribution across levels, with more women in lower paid occupations and more men in higher paid occupations. And until this changes, we can continue to pay equally for staff at the same level, but a gender pay gap will persist.

So, for us and for many other organisations, the imperative has to be around raising aspirations and creating opportunities for women to advance their careers. But there are few quick fixes. Some organisations outsource many of the activities that are dominantly female and lower paid. Their figures may look better but it doesn’t solve the problem. At Warwick, we prefer not to outsource. Some advocate quotas and positive discrimination – a more controversial approach and one that most organisations in the UK have steered clear of. Instead, our focus of attention continues to be on training and development, on the identification of structural barriers to progression and on tackling the widespread, implicit biases that inhibit the career development of women across all grades. It won’t produce quick change, but it will produce sustained change.

Christine Ennew Provost sig

Christine Ennew, Provost

The full report on gender pay gap at Warwick can be read here.

- 16 comments by 10 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Peter Izzard


    It is somewhat disingenuous to say there is virtually no difference in pay at levels 1 to 8; it evidently becomes non-negligible at grade 8 or arguably grade 7.

    Also, on the evidence presented it cannot be concluded that the skew in the gender distribution across levels, is down to lack of aspiration and opportunity, unless it is acknowledged that lack of opportunity could possibly be attributed to some kind of gender discrimination.


    29 Mar 2018, 11:15

  2. Clair Henrywood

    One structural progression barrier for all administrative staff that especially affects female colleagues as there are more women in lower paid roles, is that there are not many grade 5 administrative roles available. This leads to colleagues in grade 4 administrative roles being stuck in their grade 4 role because the leap from 4 to 6, whilst not impossible, is a big promotional jump and candidates need to demonstrate that they can work at a grade 2 grades above their current grade. I wonder whether the systematic introduction of more administrative roles at grade 5 might diminish the impact of what I perceive to be a structural progression barrier for grade 4 administrative colleagues…

    29 Mar 2018, 14:27

  3. Phil Jones

    I have not seen much difference in male/female pay gap in the conference department and throughout the University I have seen career progression skewed perhaps in favour of female workers. Of course the conference department as a commercial concern seems to be run differently than the mainstream University. My line manager (a female) probably averages 55 to 60 hours a week and has been on a grade 7 for years. I am a male and have been on a grade 6 gradually working down from 60 to about 42 hours a week over a 25 year period (grade 6 is recognised as a training grade but no upgrade likely before I retire). I line manage grade 5’s that with overtime (female) can earn as much as me as extra hours that I do but my extra hours are not recognised. Do not get me wrong, I love my job and think I am paid fairly in comparison to the world outside of the University. The conference department in general have a lot of staff male and female that are underpaid in comparison to their academic counterparts and this is not a gender issue as the majority are female although the jobs at the very top are male (but these are different jobs). We should not just measure pay but also periods of time to progress from 1 pay grade to the next, this would be interesting as it is not just about top line figures but longevity over time… how long is a female worker on any particular grade before they progress as apposed to progression time of a male worker. Someone should recognise my line manager (female) and promote to a higher grade.

    30 Mar 2018, 21:25

  4. Cherryl Jones

    The data would be more insightful if we could also see the numbers and/or proportion of male and female staff employed at each grade, alongside the pay differential.

    03 Apr 2018, 11:30

  5. Sue Wharton

    The text in this blog acknowledges that measuring the gender pay gap is a complex issue, but the one visual you are using makes it look simple. The measurement chosen for the visual – mean average by grade? -gives the impression that our gender pay differentials are not huge – but as the previous commenter says, we are not given information about the number of male and female staff at each grade. When I click through to the information for Warwick I see a much less positive presentation – a mean difference of 26.5% and a median difference of 23.4% are both high! I’m no statistics expert, but it does look to me as if the visual on this blog has been deliberately chosen to place as positive a spin as possible on our figures, and I find that disappointing.

    03 Apr 2018, 11:47

  6. Justine Mercer

    I’m very grateful to Sue for her post. I find myself reluctantly agreeing with her. “Agreeing” because the figures she cites have come from the government who, in this particular instance, are likely to be less biased than Warwick. The government report on Warwick is available here:

    But “reluctantly” because I want to work at an institution that is doing all it can to tackle this issue, rather than spinning the figures so it doesn’t look so bad. “Disappointing” is the only word for it.

    Justine Mercer (writing in a personal capacity and not as Warwick UCU Local Branch President)

    03 Apr 2018, 13:01

  7. Christelle Evaert

    Following on from Clair Henrywood’s comment, I can definitely relate to this. I have worked at the University for nearly 12 years, starting as a grade 4 in an administrative/secretarial role. I did a side step transition to a central department 4 years ago, which lead to a grade 5. For the past 12 months, I have been trying to progress to a grade 6. I have taken on substantial additional responsibilities and essentially been doing the job of a grade 6 for the past year, and I am also doing further studies that complement my role. I am fortunate to have a very supportive line manager who is doing the best he can to support me in my career progression. However, the formal recognition of transitioning from grade 5 to 6 is a long drawn-out process as it seems to get stuck in the University’s central administrative processes.

    03 Apr 2018, 14:36

  8. Sharron Wilson

    I think one of the reasons for the gender skew (not shown in the graph, but mentioned in the accompanying text) as you go up the grade structure is the lack of part time/flexible working at the higher grades. Unless you are williing and able to work full time there is nowhere to go if you are a carer (be that of children, elderly parents or other) – I would hazard a guess that if you looked at the gender balance of primary care givers, more would be female.

    03 Apr 2018, 16:43

  9. Judith McAllister

    I agree with Sharron’s comment. There is a severe lack of part-time opportunities as you go up the grades at Warwick and I suspect this disproportionately impacts women who are more likely to have caring responsibilities (1). This is, I imagine, compounded by the phenomenon to which Clair refers, that there are very few grade 5 roles in the institution in any case.


    09 Apr 2018, 09:25

  10. Cherryl Jones

    Replying to Judith with reference to the carersuk data. I expect that the situation regarding women being more likely to become caregivers is part of a negative cycle whereby women as the lower wage earners have traditionally given up full time work because their work is less financially valuable to the household than that of male contributors. This in turn both increases the gender pay gap and restricts the opportunities for women to move to better paid jobs where part time roles are harder to come by.

    10 Apr 2018, 13:59

  11. Nicola Cross

    I’m absolutely in agreement with the comments previously given by Sharron, Judith and Clair. Carers in this country are predominantly female as evidenced by Judith, and many, many carers, myself included, just cannot work full time. Part time roles at grade 4 are few and far between, in administrative roles at least, and if you ask departments about the possibility of part time when a vacancy is advertised, the answer is always a resounding “No”. It took me nearly 5 years to progress to a 4 from a 3 because the part time opportunities are so few and I’ve had to give up a permanent role for a fixed term contract for the privilege. Above a 4 there just aren’t any part time roles available and as mentioned previously there are few grade 5 opportunities anyway and the leap from a 4 to a 6 is huge. There are also very few training or development opportunities of any significance in terms of enabling career progression available for those in lower paid roles at the University, especially if you don’t already supervise.

    10 Apr 2018, 14:06

  12. Claire Newman

    In agreement with the later comments. The lack of grade 5 positions is a huge issue ion progression for the grade 4 administrative staff.

    Progression into higher administrative grades is also near to impossible for staff who can only work part-time hours, which predominantly affects female staff. My families needs prevent me from working full time, and will do so for several more years. I have felt I have the capability to progress to a higher grade, and have been encouraged to apply for higher grade positions on a number of occasions over the last few years but there are no part-time positions available at a 7 grade. I have been told that the official stance is that I may apply for positions advertised as full-time and then request to be considered for part-time hours. However have been told informally ‘not to bother’ applying for several roles because less than full time is not considered. I feel I am stuck at my current grade for the foreseeable due to lack of opportunity and lack of consideration for a more family friendly working policy.

    11 Apr 2018, 10:42

  13. Maria MacCallum

    Firstly I applaud that you are doing this research.

    Secondly I would say it’s all very well to compare those who are in the same grade to see if there is a pay gap, but you do not ask what are the proportions of male vs female in each grade, I think you’ll find that the majority of the higher grades are held by males.

    The gender pay gap is not just about the comparisson of like with like, if we truly represented the population we would have equal numbers of males and females in each grade, if we do not have that we have gender inequalities.

    I think also you need to analyse the roles that are male vs female in the same grade, you will probably find that the females have more admin roles with supervision responsibilities at lower grades and that males are better represented in more technical roles at higher grades.

    For real progress to be made in this area we must first understand exactly what the issues are.

    Many thanks, for starting the ball rolling on this.

    11 Apr 2018, 11:54

  14. Christine Ennew

    Thanks to everyone for the feedback to date. Apologies – its taken me a while to respond to comments, but here are some reflections on the feedback that you’ve provided.

    Peter – the reason I say virtually no difference for levels 1-8 is simply that there is no statistically significant difference in pay at these grades. It is only at level 9 that we can conclude that there is a difference that hasn’t arisen by chance. On your point about the skew across grades, I think we know a lot about why this exists – and its widespread across organisations and sectors. When I talk about aspiration and opportunity that covers a range of factors that give rise to gender based occupational segmentation. The point being that I think much of what we observe is not the product of direct discrimination but rather indirect discrimination which tends to inhibit opportunity and limit aspiration.

    Clair – I would agree – I think this has been recognised although I’m not sure what the easy solutions are. It’s a phenomenon that I have seen elsewhere as well. The current grading for FA5 is relatively narrow and as a consequences roles tend to polarise to FA4 or FA6. More work needed I think!

    Christelle – thanks – your experience does highlight the difficulty noted by Clair – its one that’s recognised but has proved difficult to address.

    Phil – thanks and I think progression times are an interesting question. We are able to measure times to promotion for academic roles. Its less straightforward to do this in professional services roles because progression tends to occur when people move between roles. But I think you are right to remind us of the importance of this issue.

    Cheryl – fair point and you will find that data in the gender pay report – it is sharply skewed.

    Sue – I’m sorry that you think I’m trying to mis-represent the picture – that is not what this blog was about (and please look back at my earlier blog on the same topic). What I was trying to point out is that we get different figures depending on whether we look at equal pay or gender pay. In equal pay we are thinking about the same pay for work of the same value and so in the case of equal pay the relevant comparison is to look at pay by grade which is what I’ve done. That analysis suggests that we have an issue at FA9 but probably not elsewhere. Gender pay, in contrast, is a comparison of the average earnings of men versus the average earnings of women. When there are more women than men in lower grades (and more men than women in higher grades then a gender pay gap will emerge). This is what you are seeing in the report on the Govt site. In many senses, an equal pay issue is easier to address than a gender pay issue. If an organisation has an equal pay problem it needs to change its remuneration practices. When there is an issue with a skew in the distribution by gender across pay grades, it is a more difficult to issue to address and one which will take rather longer because its about getting more women into higher grades.

    Justine – the figures on the government site are the ones we’ve provide – and I’d just refer to my response to Sue – and its about the difference between gender pay and equal pay. So a little surprised that you see it as “disappointing” – after all, I don’t think I tried to hide what was going to emerge in the gender pay report – “The factors behind gender pay gaps are hugely complex which makes it hard to look at this issue from a generalist perspective. The University’s figures are still being finalised but will point to a significant gap in average hourly pay between men and women.”

    18 May 2018, 08:30

  15. Christine Ennew

    And some more reflections below!

    Sharron and Judith – thanks – I think you are absolutely right – indeed there is research that highlights the unhelpful impact of part-time working on career progression. There are typically fewer opportunities for flexible and part-time working in higher grades and I think this is something that we need to work on. The problem isn’t unique to Warwick, but I think we do have to work harder to ease progression through the grade for both women and BME staff.

    Cheryl – I think thats a really important point because it creates a self-reinforcing cycle.

    Nicola and Claire – I think there is an issue about part-time opportunities at higher grades. There is often a default assumption that such roles can’t work on a part-time basis. In reality, I think many of them can, but we will need to work harder to try to shift the tendency for us all to default to full-time appointments. And we also need to see how we might do more in terms of flexible working.

    Maria – I thinkk we’re very much aware of the skew in the gender distribution, with more women in lower paid occupations and more men in higher paid occupations. Thats really the root of the problem. We have been doing a lot of work around progression in higher grades but we also need to look harder in lower grades. FA1 and FA2 are prediminantly female, and much of this is driven by the flexible/part-time nature of many of the roles. As Cherryl notes, this can become a self-reinforcing cycle. So my feeling is that we need to be looking across all grades at how we can support an encourage progression. Some of that will be around raising aspirations, training and develoment and some of it will be focused on making flexible and part-time working easier.

    18 May 2018, 08:37

  16. Sharron Wilson

    Christine, thank you for responding, it’s great to be listened to. I would be happy to add my voice to any working groups related to this too.

    23 Aug 2018, 12:27

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