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Oxford told: “up your game” on gender pay equality

Oxford’s female academics earn 86 percent of what their male counterparts are paid, new statistics reveal

Theo Davies-Lewis
Theo Davies-Lewis
Theo is a first-year undergraduate at St. Hugh's College. He was Broadcast Editor in HT17, and is now News Editor in TT17. He has had experience working with News UK, ITV, and the BBC. Feel free to contact Theo via email: [email protected]

Oxford University’s female academics earn 86 per cent of what their male counterparts are paid, according to recent statistics released by Times Higher Education.

The average total earned by female academics at the University from 2015-16 was £43,502, compared to £50,618 paid to their male counterparts.

The gender pay gap at Oxford has decreased by just one per cent since 2014-2015, despite the University’s “committed” position on female promotions, Cherwell has learnt. The gap was slightly smaller than at Cambridge University, where female academics earned only 84 per cent of a male academic’s salary on average.

But on the whole, Cambridge academics were paid less than Oxford professors and senior staff, with the average pay of female and male academics £40,914 and £48,729 respectively.

A University of Oxford spokesperson told Cherwell: “The University is committed to increasing the proportion of women in senior roles.

“At Oxford, both the overall proportion of female professors, as well as the proportion of professors in STEM departments is closely aligned with national and Russell Group averages, and has increased in recent years, as part of a proactive commitment to equality and diversity across all university activities.”

Ellen Peirson-Hagger, Women’s Rep at St. Anne’s College, told Cherwell of her disappointment with the findings: “Sadly it doesn’t surprise me that women academics earn less than their male counterparts. Similar statistics are available across varying professions: the world just isn’t up to speed with the fact that women are every bit as valuable as any of their co-workers.

“As a world-leading academic institution, Oxford needs to set an example and up its game on matters of equality. If they wish to continue to be taken seriously on a world stage where gender inequalities are becoming more and more apparent and realised, the university should take the lead and pay based on merit of work, not of gender.”

Laura McMillen and Monique Keane, the Women’s Officers at Balliol College, told Cherwell: “We think it’s very discouraging for women in Oxford looking to succeed as academics or at the university to see that contributions from women tutors are clearly not as valued as those from men, as made clear by the University’s financial policy.”

The analysis from THE also reveals, however, that the overall pay gap between male and female academics in the UK was 10.53 per cent in 2015-16, a 0.43 percentage point decrease on 2014-15.

It marks the fifth consecutive year that the gap has closed.

Across the UK, the gender pay gap for professors remained smaller at 5.83 per cent, but it did represent an increase on the year before of 0.06 percentage points.

Meanwhile, some universities saw the pay gap between their male and female staff widen. At City, University of London, THE reported that the gender pay gap rose 1.5 percentage points to 10.5 per cent, and at Swansea University there was an increase of 1.3 percentage points to 13.1 per cent.

A spokeswoman for City explained that it had introduced a banding scheme “to make it easier to identify and address any gender anomalies in pay at professorial level.”

She added: “An equal pay review was undertaken last year and further actions are being implemented to address gender pay issues, which are largely among the professoriate.”

“While staff pay has been repeatedly held down by universities insisting that real-term pay cuts are at the limit of affordability, the amount spent on staff as a proportion of universities’ spending has dropped. Embarrassingly, vice-chancellors have been spared this penny pinching and continue to spend lavishly on capital projects,” claims Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union.

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