Men are on average paid more than women at the University of St Andrews, a freedom of information request by The Saint has revealed.
53 per cent of staff employed (on the national pay scale) at the University are female, yet most women are employed at the lower end of the pay scale while men take home the majority of the top salaries.
In every pay bracket below £30,000 there is a higher proportion of women than men. 80 per cent of those earning less than £14,500 a year are women. By contrast, at the very top level, three men earn over £140,000 per annum compared to just one woman.
Gender equality in pay has been an ongoing problem for the University. In 2006 it released a report detailing the extent of the problem: “The University of St Andrews has not escaped the issues regarding gender equality that affect Higher Education in general. In fact, the University’s gender equality performance regarding academic staff is worse than the Scottish HE average, with a 30 per cent to 70 per cent split between women and men.”
Since then, the University has introduced a number of initiatives to improve the gender balance. The figures in recent years have improved as around 40 per cent of academic staff are now female.
Since 2006, the University has published an equal pay statement, carried out an full equal pay audit to ensure that the University practices equal pay for work of equal value, launched a flexible working policy and signed up to the Athena SWAN programme designed for women in science and technology. These latest figures show that more still needs to be done, however.
The University’s gender equality scheme states: “The slogan of the Equal Opportunities Commission is Women. Men. Different. Equal. This Scheme does not set out to ensure that the University achieves, as its definitive goal, a 50:50 split in gender ratios or sameness between the sexes. Where this is a reasonable and achievable expectation, the University will aim to attain this, but it is possible that there will always be differences in the choices that women and men make in their education and careers; what is important is that any unjustifiable barriers or obstacles that limit achievement are dismantled.”
A University spokesperson responded to the recent figures, saying: “The University is fully committed to gender equality.
“Like many organisations in the UK, occupational segregation exists in the University within job categories that have been traditionally seen within society as male or female. Over 80 per cent of the University’s clerical staff are women, the vast majority Trades staff are male, while only a very small proportion of the cleaners in Estates are men. This is not unusual in the UK as a whole. Most of the factors that affect this situation are outwith the University’s control, but we are committed to playing our part in improving this situation.”
This is part of problem that is common across many sectors. Earlier this month, campaigners across the UK called for change on Equal Pay Day. This is the day on which women effectively stop being paid because, on average, they earn 15 per cent less than men. The figures from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2012 showed the hourly rate of pay for men was £26.54, versus £18.32 for women.
The University spokesperson continued: “Policy measures have an important part to play – that is why we introduced our Gender Equality Action Plan, put in place an Equal Pay Statement, introduced flexible working, and created a Female Academic networking scheme. We continue to seek new ideas and practical ways to challenge gender stereotypes and make it easier for men and women to achieve their potential.
“We know that to compete globally the University must develop female talents. Already we are making progress. The achievement of an Athena SWAN award earlier this year marked an important step towards advancing gender equality for women. The University’s Chemistry Department achieved a Bronze award at institutional level, and there is a programme across all Science schools to achieve this by 2015. What’s more with 20 out of 35 of our top non-academic positions currently held by women, we are confident that we are on course to achieve a better balance of women and men across our professions.”