Male managers promote other men because they see them as having greater financial responsibilities than women, according to a report by the Industrial Society.
The study says male managers’ perception of other men as breadwinners means they are reluctant to promote women who are of childbearing age.
The report claims women managers also share this view.
The paper is a response to a consultation exercise by the Equal Pay Task Force, an independent body set up by the Equal Opportunities Commission.
It criticises the legal options for challenging unequal pay, which is describes as “inaccessible and protracted”.
It also urges employees to share their salary details with colleagues to expose discriminatory pay.
Patrick Burns, the Industrial Society’s head of policy, said he does not believe employers intentionally discriminate against women in the workplace.
He said, “The pay gap arises from deeply held views about women’s abilities, why women work and the value of their work, all of which are likely to be perpetuated by male domination of managerial positions.
“Nevertheless, 30 years since the Equal Pay Act 1970, women’s full-time weekly earnings are still only 73.8 per cent of men’s, and the problem has to be tackled if organisations are to secure women’s full contribution to the UK economy.”
• Recruitment, pay and promotion decisions are made mostly by male managers
• Male managers are reluctant to promote women of childbearing age
• Legal options for challenging unequal pay are inaccessible
• Performance-related pay is particularly damaging to women