City women lagging behind on pay

Surprise surprise: a new study finds that even among the City's high-fliers, women are earning less than men.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Regular MT readers are well aware that gender pay inequality is alive, well, and stubbornly refusing to go away. Back in February we reported that the UK’s gender pay disparity – 17% – is the worst of 27 EU countries. But figures released today show that the problem is particularly acute in the City, where the average high-income male is earning 37% more than his female counterpart…

The numbers - supplied by The Route City wealth club - show that the average salary of the wealthy city male is currently a tasty £445k. The average female high earner, on the other hand, is taking home £281k – not to be sniffed at, admittedly, but it might leave equal pay campaigners with a slightly sour after-taste...

The results are interesting because at least one traditional explanation for gender pay discrepancy - that women tend to do low-paid caring and public sector jobs – clearly doesn’t cut it here. Indeed, the greatest wage disparity occurs in the legal and management consultancy professions, where men and women are doing exactly the same job: men, on average, earn a whopping 59% more than women. That’s a salary of £622k v £255k for male and female lawyers respectively, and an average of £431k for male consultants v £175k for their female co-workers. More of a chasm than a gap, really…

In fact, the only women in the Square Mile who are actually doing better than their male counterparts are the self-employed – where it seems that, tired of putting up with the same old same old, sisters are doing it for themselves. Women who decide to go it alone earn 7% more than men who do the same - although here the average salary is ‘only’ £130k. So the only way of earning more than men is apparently to make yourself the boss.

There are plenty of explanations around for this ongoing discrepancy – some people attribute it to women’s shorter careers or maternity breaks; others to men being more aggressive salary negotiators – but very few potential solutions to the problem. As you may recall from our story back in July, moves are underfoot in Westminster to force public sector firms and private firms doing public contracts to publish details of their gender pay gaps – but that won’t do women in the City any good.

So more bright ideas are needed – all those reasons may well play a part, but we’re pretty sure they don’t account for a 59% gap...

In today's bulletin:

Bank plays it safe despite further housing falls
Barclays surprises despite profit slump
Is a woman's place in the home?
City women lagging behind on pay
Whole lot of pain for Whole Foods 

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