The gender gap: Men and women's pay

22nd March 2011


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The difference between men and women's pay in the environment profession. As detailed in the IEMA pay and benefits survey 2011

Figure 6 shows the variation in salaries between men and women. Median total earnings for men are on average 24.2% higher than those for women. In IEMA’s first salary survey in 2007, the total earnings for men and women were £37,000 and £29,000 respectively – 25.4% higher for men.

This suggests a small decrease in the wage gap since 2007, although the difference could be down to differences in the samples as the poll is not a matched sample. However, if the gender pay gap has narrowed for environmental professionals, it reflects the trend across the whole economy.

The Office for National Statistics recently released data showing that in the 12 months to April 2010 the gap between full-time employed men and women across the whole of the UK shrank from 12.2% to 10.2%. The comparable figure in 1997 was 17%.

An important caveat in considering the wide earnings gap between male and female environmental professionals in our sample is that the age distributions of the sexes are very different. The female age profile is biased towards the younger end; 57.3% of female members are below the age of 35, compared with 29% of male respondents. As we saw in figure 5, median annual total earnings increase with age till the mid-40s when they stabilise for men and dip for women. As younger individuals dominate the female membership profile, this may contribute towards the lower average earnings in this group.

It is important to note, however, that average earnings for women are lower than for men in nine out of 10 age categories, which reflects a wider trend not purely associated with career breaks and a younger profile. When we look in detail at salaries for men and women across the age ranges, as shown in table 5 we can see the wage gap is far from uniform.

Women actually have slightly higher salaries between the ages of 21 and 24, but this reverses in their mid-to-late 20s. Both men and women’s salaries increase up to the 40–44 age group at a similar rate (see figure 5), albeit with women earning less: at 40–44 the wage gap is 5.4%, compared with the overall gap of 24.2%. From the ages 45 to 54 there is a significant increase in the differential. Although the overall wage gap is around 24%, it is most significant from 45 onwards, when professionals of both sexes might be expected to be in more senior positions.

Table 5 also shows how the wage gaps from our 2007 salary survey compared with those in 2011. Although the gap has increased in two age categories, the decreases in the other three age categories outweigh these rises. For example, the gap between the 35–44 age group has decreased by 7.1% and between the 55–64 age group by 16.2%. In contrast, the increases between the 25–34 and 45–54 age groups are 0.8% and 0.4% respectively.

Table 5: Gender wage gap by age for the 2007 and 2011 surveys - men to women (age categories from 2007)
2007 2011
Age Difference % Gap Difference % Gap
21-24 £677 3.1% -£2,000 -9.5%
25-34 £1,727 5.8% £2,100 6.6%
35-44 £6,800 17.0% £4,070 9.9%
45-54 £6,500 16.3% £7,000 16.7%
55-64 £9,800 24.5% £3,533 8.3%

Read the full survey results:

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