The gender gap: Men and women's pay

12th March 2012

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The IEMA practitioners' survey 2012 reveals that the difference between men and women's pay in the environment profession is smaller than the UK national average

Environment management does not have the image of being a male-dominated profession in the way that health and safety management does. But the environment management and assessment field is still weighted in favour of male professionals, according to our survey findings.

Of the 2,026 respondents who answered the question on gender, 61.5% are men (1,245) and 38.5% women (781). By comparison, a recent survey of health and safety management professionals published in Health and Safety at Work magazine established a 78%/22% split in favour of men.

Reducing the gap between men and women’s pay has been a public policy imperative for many years and the latest official figures from the 2011 ASHE show that the headline gender pay gap, based on the preferred measure of hourly pay, narrowed from 10.1% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2011.

This is progress for women in work, but there is still much to be done to eradicate the gender pay differential. The ASHE pegged median annual earnings for men at £28,409 and £22,910 for women – considerably greater than the 9.1% gap reported for hourly pay.

Analysing our own pay data for full-time environment professionals, we find median total earnings of £38,000 for men and £32,700 for women. This equates to a 13.9% pay gap. Although this is significantly narrower than found in the ASHE earnings data, which put the wage differential at 19.4%, there is no room for complacency as the gap remains fairly large.

Female respondents may take a small measure of comfort from the results of IEMA’s salary survey in 2007. Then, the median total earnings for men and women were £37,000 and £29,500 respectively – a 20.3% pay gap for women. The 2012 pay gender gap is also much less than the male/female differential in last year’s practitioners’ survey, when men’s median earnings were £38,500 and women’s were £31,000, a difference of 19.5%.

An important caveat in considering the wide earnings gap between male and female environment professionals in our sample is that the age distribution of the sexes varies enormously.

As was the case in last year’s IEMA survey, the female age profile is biased towards the younger end of the age spectrum: 54.5% of female members are below the age of 35, compared with 27.3% of male respondents.

Figure 5 (Earnings by highest qualification) demonstrates that the median annual total earnings increase with age. They peak for men when aged between 40 and 44, while a woman’s earning capacity tends to plateau from the early 30s to the mid-40s, before rising again between the ages of 45 and 49.

As younger individuals dominate the female membership profile, this may skew female earnings towards the lower end of the pay spectrum and result in a wider gender pay gap than is actually the case in the profession as a whole.

When we look in detail at salaries for men and women across the age ranges, as shown in table 4 (below), we can see wide variation in the pay gap according to age bracket.

For example, in the youngest age range, 21–24, there is a negative pay differential of –9.5%, with female environment professionals earning £2,000 more than their male colleagues.

This pattern is reversed in all other age brackets, with a pay gap ranging from 2.9%, at age 30–34, to 19.5% at 60–64 years of age. It should be noted that women are under-represented in this latter age bracket and so the figures should be treated with caution.

Read the full survey results:


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