Newly published research has revealed that the gender pay gap is still very prevalent in workplaces across the UK, and is at its worst for women who have become mothers.

Pay Gap Widens After Childbirth

The research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that on average, women are paid around 18% less than men per hour. The pay gap is at its narrowest for younger women, before they become mothers, but after the birth of their first child the pay gap widens and continues to do so for 12 years. At this point, average hourly pay for women is 33% less than for men.

The researchers highlight that the widening pay gap is associated with reduced hours of paid work, but not because women see an immediate cut in hourly pay when they reduce their hours. Rather, women who work half-time lose out on subsequent wage progression, meaning that the hourly wages of men (and of women in full-time work) pull further and further ahead. In addition, women who take time out of paid work altogether and then return to the labour market miss out on wage growth.

Poor Pay Progression

“The gap between the hourly pay of higher-educated men and women has not closed at all in the last 20 years,” commented Robert Joyce, Associate Director at IFS and an author of the report. “The reduction in the overall gender wage gap has been the result of more women becoming highly educated, and a decline in the wage gap among the lowest-educated.”

“Women in jobs involving fewer hours of work have particularly low hourly wages, and this is because of poor pay progression, not because they take an immediate pay cut when switching away from full-time work,” he added. “Understanding that lack of progression is going to be crucial to making progress in reducing the gender wage gap.”

Women Miss Out on Promotions

The pay gap analysis by the IFS has coincided with the publication of new research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), which found that male workers have a 40% greater chance of being promoted into a management role than women.

The research looked at salary data for the past 12 months, and found that over the period, only 10% of women in management positions received a promotion to a higher role, compared to 14% of men.

According to the CMI, this lack of diversity is bad for business, and it has called on employers to act now to make changes.

“Promoting men ahead of women is keeping us all back,” said CMI chief executive Ann Francke. “Diversity delivers better financial results, better culture and better decision making. Even before the new regulations kick in, employers need to get on board with reporting on their recruitment and promotion policies and how much they pay their men and women.”

“Transparency and targets are what we need to deal with stubborn problems like the gender pay gap,” she added.

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