Gender pay gap in schools Article

Back to basics: eliminating the gender pay gap in schools

Teaching has one of the worst gender pay divides in the labour market, and it’s our duty as educators to help bridge the gap.

The gender pay gap has been part of zeitgeist over the past year, and for good reason. Since the government’s introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting for organisations with 250 employees or more in 2017, the deep inequality at the heart of the labour market has become apparent for all to see.
 
The forecast is depressing. Though the gender pay gap actually fell to 17.9% for full-time workers in 2018, a YouGov survey in the same year found that over half (52%) of British adults believe the gender pay gap will never close.

 

Far from being immune from the pay gap, teaching is one of the worst offenders.

According to TUC data, the pay divide between male and female teachers is 18.4% for both part-time and full-time employees. 
 
It gets worse. Of the 100 companies with the biggest pay gap across England, Wales and Scotland (well, those that have currently declared their figures), 40 are primary or secondary schools. Of these, 10 have a median pay gap of 50% or higher.

 

The more senior the position, the wider the gulf becomes. In state schools, women in leadership positions earn £5,700 less than men.

The divide widens further when it comes to age. Female headteachers under the age of 40 earn £5,400 less than their male counterparts, while those in their 40s earn £7,700 less, those in their 50s earn £11,300 less, and those aged 60 or over earn a whopping £13,500 less.
 
If we take into account the median pay differential of 18.4%, this means women are effectively working 67 days for free. In theory, female employees are working from the start of January term all the way up to March 8th without being paid for their efforts.
 
Unlike in other professions, career breaks in teaching can have a negative impact on pay and career progression — which can be particularly troublesome for female teachers on maternity leave.
 
Women in teaching also experience lower rates of promotion, while evidence from the European Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggests that the introduction of competitive performance-related pay (PRP) is making the gender pay
gap worse.

 

The UK’s education pay gap is above the 2014 EU rate of 16.1% (the lowest of which is Slovenia at 2.9%). 

According to TUC data, the pay divide between male and female teachers is 18.4% for both part-time and full-time employees. 
 
It gets worse. Of the 100 companies with the biggest pay gap across England, Wales and Scotland (well, those that have currently declared their figures), 40 are primary or secondary schools. Of these, 10 have a median pay gap of 50% or higher.

 

At the current rate of progress, it’ll take another 60 years to close the gender pay gap. 

For a profession that has a female majority (3 out of 4 teachers in the UK are women), these figures should be sobering to anyone that reads them.

It’s time to change.

The first step towards equal pay is for all schools and academies to publish information on their gender pay gaps — regardless of the number of employers. 
 
Only when part-time jobs become well-paid and jobs have more flexible working hours will women working in the UK teaching start to get paid their fair share. Higher wages in important sectors like social care will also help buck the trend.

 

We need to challenge gender stereotypes throughout the curriculum.

The gender pay gap in schools is part of the wider problem of pay inequality across all areas of society. For positive change to come to the teaching profession, it has to stem from sweeping change across the board. That’s why the NUT recommend challenging gender stereotypes in the school curriculum.
 
This is very much a long-term approach, but by educating young people on the inherent unfairness of the gender pay divide, teachers can help accelerate a future of gender
pay parity.

 

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