September 23, 2016

Measuring the gap

I’m really proud to be working for Warwick and that makes me a bit competitive – and the idea that we are “second worst” for something is always going to catch my eye and cause anxiety. And the whole area of diversity and inclusion is something that I have worked on for a long time, so the recent headline about the gender pay gap in our independent student newspaper, “The Boar” immediately got me worried.

Boar Headline Warwick is second worst

The issue of gender-based differences in pay in the UK has moved on a lot since the strike by women machinists at the Ford Motor Company triggered the introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970 (immortalised in the movie – Made in Dagenham). Although subsequently repealed, the main provisions of the Act were retained in the 2010 Equality Act.Despite legislation and a whole raft of initiatives, there continue to be significant disparities in pay by gender (and a range of other “Protected Characteristics”).

The factors behind gender pay gaps are hugely complex which makes it hard to look at this issue from a generalist perspective - factors such as differences in education, qualifications and experience to name a few. But there is evidence of the persistence of both implicit and explicit discrimination. Labour market segmentation (more women in lower paid occupations) is one such example of indirect discrimination and a recent study by Warwick academics (using Australian data) provided evidence of direct discrimination in the form of systematically lower probabilities of women successfully requesting pay rises.

One of my roles at Warwick is the Chair of the University’s Equality and Diversity Committee, and this gave me another driver to look more closely at the UCU findings and assess them in relation to institutional practice. The Boar story claims a significant average pay gap of 18.7%. The SU says it’s very disappointed, the University says that these figures overstate the case. So let’s have a look at some figures from the University’s salary database.

pay table

I'm not saying that there is not a problem and we don’t need to address this issue but with any statistics, it is worth digging further to give context. The differences in pay between males and females are statistically insignificant in all grades except 2 and 9 (the latter being Professors, very senior Administrative and commercial staff) and small differences in either direction are primarily driven by differences in length of service. At Grade 2, the difference is entirely explained by contractual overtime paid to two groups of staff where male staff outnumber females.

At the most senior level, Grade 9, the pay gap has fallen in recent years, in part because of a rigorous programme of equality adjustment each year following the Senior Pay review (something which other institutions are also doing – including King’s and Essex). The academic pay gap at level 9 has now been corrected in two faculties and is very marginal in a third.

So why the difference between the UCU perspective and that of the University? Well, the UCU report appears to work from average figures across all grades while the figures above are disaggregated by grade. And the data above come from the University directly and is the most recent data available, while the UCU report appears to use older figures reported to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Putting these different data sets to one side and looking ahead, we must continue to monitor pay differentials and address any differences related to any of the protected characteristics – and not just gender. We have a high level snapshot of the current position but further, more detailed analysis would be of real value and this is something we will include on the workplan for the Equality and Diversity Committee for the coming year, alongside the commitments expressed in the “Gender Statement of Intent”.

Christine Ennew Provost

Christine Ennew, Provost

- 4 comments by 3 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Sarah Richardson

    Thanks for these thoughts Christine. However, presumably the UCU data allows a comparison like-with-like, assuming we don’t have access to all other Russell group pay data. So, your reply did not really answer the Boar headline, that we are under-performing in the sector. I’d also like to know the numbers per grade – is there an imbalance in numbers with more men than women in the highest salary brackets?


    (Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer, Dept of History)

    27 Sep 2016, 19:09

  2. Justine Mercer

    Disclaimer: I write as a female associate professor and President of Warwick UCU

    The UCU figures are indeed based on the average salary of all staff on a particular type of contract and rely on HESA data that is at least a year out-of-date. The UCU report shows that, on average, female academic-related staff are paid £1,585 less than their male counterparts and female academics (including professors) are paid £11,293 less than their male counterparts. This disparity occurs because women tend to be clustered in the lower grades and men in the higher ones. The table above showing grade-level variation is very helpful but, as Sarah suggests, it needs to be augmented with columns showing the number of men and women occupying each grade. HESA data from 2010/11 indicated that 80% of professors at Warwick were male (293 male professors and 72 female professors). It would be good to know how much progress has been made since then, in terms of both proportion and salary differential.

    Thanks to Christine for raising an important issue requiring urgent action.


    30 Sep 2016, 14:18

  3. Execblog Resource

    Thanks Sarah and Justine for your comments,

    We do have more figures on the gender distribution from HR and I couldn’t include all the data in the blog, but certainly want to use this data as part of further analysis (particularly in my capacity as Chair of E&DC). These figures confirm a type of labour market segmentation problem and although they don’t include the most senior grade there is a continuation of the trend for women to be under-represented in the most senior grades. And of course Sarah is correct – without detailed data from other Russell Groups, we don’t know where Warwick ranks, but we do know that the quoted ranking is not based on a fair comparison.

    For me, the issue is that when we talk about equal pay, we have to compare like with like – that’s the only fair comparison (certainly if we want to start considering policy interventions). So we need to look within grade bands – with the most senior grades often being the area where the discrepancies are greatest . And while Warwick hasn’t gone down the route of Essex with a big public statement about salary adjustments for senior women, it is the case (as you’ll note from the blog) that we have been making use of our senior salary reviews to address anomalies among the highest paid staff.

    I’m also not a big fan of using the need for further analysis as an excuse for avoiding action. On the other hand, without a decent understanding of why we are where we are, in terms of distributions across grades, it’s difficult to determine what the right interventions are. If you are aware of interventions that other Universities have used to tackle the underlying problem of getting more women into the higher grades, I’d be really interested to hear about them.


    06 Oct 2016, 09:35

  4. Live Roulette TV

    Thank you Christine for raising very important issues which need to urgent action.
    Live Roulette TV

    17 Oct 2016, 06:22

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