Closing the Gender Pay Gap in Education: A leadership imperative

The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average hourly pay rate for men and the average hourly pay rate for women. Although related, it is distinct from equal pay. The Equal Pay Act of 1970 and the Equality Act 2010 legislated that women and men must receive equal pay if performing equal work in the same employment. Equal pay includes all benefits, bonuses or performance-related salary increases.

As noted by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), across Britain in 2016, the gender pay gap stood at 18.1%, the ethnicity pay gap at 5.7%, and the disability pay gap at 13.6%. These average figures disguise wide differences, with some groups experiencing far greater pay gaps than others. We also know from a range of research that the impact of the pandemic has served to further existing inequalities, with women being disproportionately impacted in comparison to men.

The gender pay gap is a longstanding phenomenon and its causes are complex; this applies regardless of sector. Social pressures and norms also influence gender roles and often shape the types of interests, occupations, and career paths which men and women follow, and therefore their level of pay. Pay gaps can be a good indicator of inequalities in access to work, progression and rewards and in education, there is a significant gender pay gap compared to other sectors.

The analysis, which forms the focus of this report, is based on a review of the latest data from the School Workforce Census. Whilst the annual statistics highlight the yearly gap, this tells us very little about differences across the sector and whether there has been any progress in reducing the gap in recent years. Therefore, we have attempted to further analyse the data to track trends over time, and differences across phases, roles, and structures. Due to the limitations of this published data, it has not been possible to explore a range of additional important factors, although we know from other research that disabled women or women from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds can face additional pay penalties.

The report is intended to inform debate and highlight areas where action may be needed to ensure that women leaders and educators are valued appropriately and equitably for the work that they do. This in turn should help the sector to retain more experienced women as leaders in our schools and trusts and our children to learn about leadership from more diverse role models.

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