Gender pay gap: Women are rewarded less for loyalty and penalised more in male-dominated jobs

Patrick Scott
Gender pay gap

Women are rewarded less for loyalty and are paid up to a quarter less than their male colleagues in the most male-dominated occupations according to an analysis of the UK's gender pay gap.

While the UK's overall gender pay gap has been steadily shrinking over the years, the median salary for men working full-time is still nine per cent higher than it is for women.

Defenders of this slow progress often cite the fact that women tend to do different - and generally less well paid - jobs than men, thus earning less on average. But new figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there are big discrepancies in pay between men and women engaged in similar jobs.

The most unequal occupations in terms of pay are skilled trades roles with the pay gap standing at 24.8 per cent among these jobs.

Chief Executives and Senior Officials came in a close second with a gender pay gap of 24.7 per cent.

Women are paid less than men who do the same jobs

It is no coincidence that these roles are the ones which are the most male-dominated - 92 per cent of those employed in skilled trade occupations are men.

This is known as occupational crowding.

Whether through personal choice or discrimination during the hiring process, women are less likely to enter these heavily male-skewed occupations, thus affecting pay.

The more male-dominated an occupation, the bigger the gender pay gap

Women are rewarded less for job loyalty

In addition to finding a wide range of discrepancies on an occupational level, the ONS analysis also found that women's pay peaks earlier than men's (45 compared to 48 for men in the private sector) and that the gap accelerates sharply when workers enter their 40s.

While the ONS ascribe this acceleration to women taking career breaks to have children, the analysis also found that women are rewarded less for job loyalty than men are.

For example, a woman who has been in the same job for between five and 10 years earns an average of 8.7 per cent more per hour than a woman who has just started the same job.

A man in the same situation earns 13 per cent more than a man with no experience in the role.

Men reap more reward for job loyalty

Discrimination could be a factor in pay gap

The goal of this analysis from the ONS was to ascertain how much of the gender pay gap could be explained by examining characteristics such as age, occupation and job tenure.

In the end, this model could only only account for 36.1 per cent of the variation found in the data, indicating that there are a lot of other factors that could be at play - including discrimination.

The report states:

"The analysis would benefit from information on family structures, education and career breaks; without these the unexplained element is over-stated.

"Factors such as the number of children, the age of children, whether parents have any caring responsibilities, the number of years spent in school and the highest level of qualification achieved are likely to improve the estimation of men’s and women’s pay structures and consequently decrease the unexplained element of the pay gap.

"As a result, the unexplained element should not be interpreted as a measure of discriminatory behaviour, though it is possible that this plays a part."