Gender pay gap is wider than previously estimated

New earnings figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that the gender pay gap was 19.5 per cent in 2003, rather than 18 per cent as previously estimated.

In addition, the new statistics show that the gap has not narrowed as quickly over the six-year period from 1998 to 2003 as earlier figures suggested.

According to the new estimates, the gap narrowed over this period by 1.7 percentage points, rather than by 2 percentage points.

Sally Brett, assistant editor of IDS Diversity at Work, said the figures highlighted the persistent inequalities both in pay levels and in access to higher paid managerial and professional jobs.

“They remind us that much still needs to be done to ensure women are paid fairly and treated equitably in the workplace,” she said.

The latest statistics are derived by applying new methodology to the annual New Earnings Survey (NES), which was the main source of earnings data in the UK, and it is believed they give a better reflection of the actual levels of earnings in the economy.

In particular, the sample used by the NES has now been weighted to make it more representative of the make-up of the actual workforce.

Survey returns from high earners in managerial and professional jobs ‘who are more likely to be male’ are given larger weights as they tend to have lower response rates. They were therefore previously under-represented in the sample compared with people in other occupations.

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