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‘More to be done’ – University’s gender pay gap is above average

An investigation conducted by The Student has revealed that the gender pay gap at the University of Edinburgh was last reported to be 16.67 per cent, nearly one per cent higher than the Office for National Statistics average for the higher education sector.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission defines a significant gender pay gap as five per cent.

The investigation also found an overwhelming minority of women employed on the highest pay grade, and a minority of women staff and students undertaking STEM subjects.

There is currently a 54 per cent majority of women employed at the University of Edinburgh, according to data obtained by The Student for February 2021.

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Employed staff at the University of Edinburgh fall under a pay grade, ranging from UE01 to UE10.

Although the majority of staff are women, there is a trend within the staff population that appears to favour men.

According to the Equal Pay Audit 2019, only 29 per cent of staff employed on the highest pay grade, UE10, are women.

The average gender pay gap for this pay grade was reported to be 4.93 per cent.

Men employed on UE10 earn £87,968 on average, whereas women earn £83,628 on average.

The report stated that one factor for this is that women staff tend to have a shorter “length of service” than men, who are therefore able to work their way up the pay grade system.

The median length of service for men is three years and five months, whereas it is only one year and eight months for women.

Across the UK, more women tend to go to university than men, and in recent years the proportion of women entrants has increased dramatically.

The Student has found that women make up the majority of students enrolling at the University of Edinburgh.

Since the academic year 2010/11, an average of 62.7 per cent of undergraduate entrants are women, higher than the average proportion within Russell Group universities, second only to King’s College London.

Similarly, an average of 61.1 per cent of postgraduate entrants are women.

The University of Edinburgh ranks fourth highest in the average proportion of women postgraduate entrants within Russell Group universities, behind York, Southampton, and Durham universities.

The Student has also found that women students outperform men students in 17 out of 20 Schools at the University of Edinburgh, with the exception of the School of Informatics, the School of Economics, and the School of Engineering.

Women students do outperform men students with the average proportion of women achieving a 1st or 2:1 degree classification between 0.8 per cent and 16.7 per cent more than men students.

Whilst more women students attend the University of Edinburgh, The Student has found that this demographic is concentrated more in the humanities subjects, and there is a large minority of women undertaking STEM degrees.

The most recent figures, retrieved from the Equality and Diversity Monitoring and Research Committee Student Report 2018/2019, reveal that the average proportion of women students to men students in their final year of undergraduate study is 76 per cent in favour of women students in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

Similarly, in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, 72 per cent of the final-year student population are women.

However, in the School of Informatics, women students represent only 22 per cent of the final-year student population, and only 27 per cent in the School of Physics and Astronomy.

A similar pattern can be observed within the staff population.

As of February 2021, The Student has found that the proportion of women staff employed in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures is 65 per cent.

The highest proportion of women staff is in the School of Health in Social Sciences, at 78 per cent.

Yet in the School of Informatics, the School of Mathematics and the School of Engineering, only 27 per cent of staff are women.

Speaking to The Student, a spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh, said: “The University acknowledges that while some progress has been made to address the gender pay gap, there is more to be done.

“There is a dominance of females in the lower grades, as is reflected across society.

“We are committed to working in partnership with recognised trade unions to understand the University’s workforce distribution and any associated pay gaps.

“In line with the University’s public sector equality duty, the next pay audit report is due in April 2021, data from which will drive the University’s action plan.

“Since December 2015, significant progress has been made to increase the numbers of women on higher salaries across the University, with the female Grade 10 and equivalent population at the University increasing by 42.5 per cent in that time.”

The Edinburgh University Students’ Association Sabbatical Officers added: “We believe that gender inequality exists at the University of Edinburgh.

“This can affect the student community, particularly our women students, in feeling a sense of community and in setting aspirations within the education sector.

“We were disappointed to learn that there continues to be a gender pay gap, and it also displays an issue of the recruitment and promotion of women to the University of Edinburgh, particularly in Grade 10 posts.

“If you have been affected by sexism or gender inequality, please reach out to our Women’s Liberation Campaign and your VP Welfare so we can address these issues on a systematic level.

“Alternatively, you can contact the Advice Place if you wish to make a formal complaint to the University, and we will assist you with this process.”

Image: London Student Feminists via Wikimedia Commons