A majority of UK’s ‘top jobs’ pay men more on average

Some job positions have lower gender pay gaps than the 2021 average, but this isn't enough

While many of the most popular job roles in large UK organisations are female-held, they still favour men in terms of pay, further evidencing the severity of gender inequality in the workplace.

Job roles and gender pay gap(s)

This comes from HR software provider CIPHR’s analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data about men’s and women’s median hourly pay rates. Entitled ‘CIPHR’s gender pay gap statistics 2021 report’, it found while women make up the majority (64% plus) of the workforce in seven of the top 10 jobs with the most employees, all but one have gender pay gaps favouring men.

This follows a previous survey by CIPHR that found that most staff underestimate their employer’s gender pay gap and that 57% believed no wage gap exists where they work. This reveals a lack of knowledge of the reality of the gender pay gap, where the UK average is 15.4% which rose from 14.9% in 2020.

CIPHR’s latest findings reveal that 65 of the top 78 jobs (83%) with the largest number of workers in the UK pay men more on average. While most of these jobs have gender pay gaps that are lower than the UK average, women in these roles are still paid less than men overall.

For example, in sales accounts and business development manager roles, where there are 461,600 workers in the UK with a 60% strong male workforce, women typically earn an average of 87p for every pound earned by a man. As a result, there is a 12.5% gender pay gap in favour of men.

Gender pay gaps that favour men

This year, the three most popular job roles that employ over 2.2 million people are sales and retail assistants, care workers and home carers, and administrative/clerical assistants. The average gender pay gaps for these roles, according to the study, are 5%, 1.7%, and 10.5%, respectively, even though women make up 64%, 83%, and 76% of these workforces.

Nursing is another sector where women are overrepresented yet are paid less overall. Nursing is the fourth largest occupation in the UK, with over half a million workers where 86% are women; here, the gender pay gap stands at 4% in favour of men.

Below are the 10 most popular jobs in 2021 sorted by the widest gender pay gaps:

  • Sales accounts and business development managers (12.5%): 461,600 workers
  • Other administrative occupations – including admin / clerical assistants (10.5%): 641,100
  • Bookkeepers, payroll managers and wages clerks (7.9%): 407,500 workers
  • Elementary storage occupations – including freight handlers and warehouse workers (7.4%): 427,400 workers
  • Sales and retail assistants (5%): 866,900 workers
  • Programmers and software development professionals (4.8%): 421,400
  • Nurses (4%): 547,000 workers
  • Care workers and home carers (1.7%): 730,500 workers
  • Primary and nursery education teaching professionals (1.6%): 401,200 workers
  • Kitchen and catering assistants (-1%): 404,100 workers

There are also jobs in sectors with gender pay gaps favouring men that are wider than the national average, including production managers and directors in mining and energy (44.7%), assemblers – vehicles and metal goods (33.2%), and chemical and related process operatives (32.5%). Financial managers and directors, and metal making and treating process operatives, with gender pay gaps of 30.8% and 30.7% follow.

However, most roles in these workforces are male-held, which equates to three men to every woman according to available data. Yet, financial managers and directors differ. Here, the workforce is split more evenly between 66% men and 44% women.

Gender pay gaps favouring women and no pay gaps at all

On the other hand, the five jobs with the widest gender pay gaps in favour of women include midwives (-54.9%), barristers and judges (-34.2%), veterinary nurses (-33.1%), mechanical engineers (-26.7%), and special needs education teaching professionals (-25.5%).

In job roles where there are no evident gender pay gaps this year, health professionals, including audiologists, dental hygiene therapists, dietitians, and occupational health advisers, are in this category. In the beauty sector, hairdressers and barbers are also reported to have no gender pay gaps in 2021.

David Richter, Director of Marketing at CIPHR, said: “CIPHR’s gender pay gap survey in September revealed some surprising insights into how people perceive gender pay disparities in the UK – particularly in relation to their workplace. While nearly all British workers agree that the country has a gender pay gap – over half don’t believe one exists where they work. So, we decided to investigate how likely this really is – do most people work in occupations and industries with no gender pay gap?

“Using the latest official data from the ONS, we aimed to discover just how many of the UK’s most popular jobs – that’s occupational roles held by at least 100,000 people or more, are affected by a gender pay gap. Disappointingly, most of the job roles highlighted in CIPHR’s study still have a pay gap that favours men. Even after years of reforms and inclusive policies and initiatives, there’s still a long way to go to close the gap.”

Please note that a negative figure represents the other end of the gender pay gap scale, where there’s a bigger gender pay gap in favour of women. The closer a figure is to zero, the better for gender pay equity.

The ‘CIPHR’s gender pay gap statistics 2021 report’ can be viewed in full here.

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