The worst city in the UK for gender pay equality revealed

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Moya Lothian-McLean
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How can the capital be lagging so far behind?

It’s the biggest city in the UK, with 100 women to every 98 men. And yet analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics by e-learning company, MeLearning, has found that London has the worst average gender pay gap in the whole country.

Not only is London lagging behind other regional capitals like Manchester, which has a gender pay gap of 12.8%, the inequality is significantly worse than across the UK as a whole. The capital comes in at a 20% average difference between the salaries of men and women, compared to a national figure of 14%.

It’s an embarrassing reveal given 20 years ago, the capital boasted the smallest pay gap in Britain and suggests that while efforts are being made elsewhere to attain financial equality, London’s progress has stood still, with women earning 80p to every £1 a man does. 

The news comes ahead of the April deadline for companies with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap information. Only yesterday, retailer Marks & Spencer admitted they pay female employees an average of 12.3% less than male ones and  – despite 72% of their work force being female – 57% of senior managers are male, with only three women on the company’s 10-person board.

The insights into pay inequality around the nation also show that women in smaller towns and cities fare better on the salary front than those in large urban settlements. In Rossendale – a Lancashire district with a population of about 67,000 – women actually earn an average of 16.8% more than their male peers. And out of the bigger metropolitan areas, Leicester had the smallest pay gap, with an average of 5.6%.  

As for the explanations for why bigger cities are worse for salary inequity, experts say it could be attributed to the industries found there. 

“There isn’t one consistent reason why the gender pay gap is lower or negative in some of these areas, which are pretty diverse,” says Andrew Bazeley, policy and insight manager at gender equality charity, The Fawcett Society. “The shape of the local labour market is probably important such as the proportion of public sector jobs which tend to pay women better[,] the industries which are key local employers[,] and the availability of the transport networks and childcare can make full time employment more feasible for women.” 

Bazeley also says demographics play a part. 

“It’s important to remember too that some rural areas may have a lower gender pay gap but also have fewer women work in the first place than in cities,” he explains. 

Ah well, only 216 more years of unequal wages to go.

Images: Rex Features