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Pay parity soars in aerospace but plummets elsewhere

Women in the UK earned 65p for every pound earned by men in March 2024, analysis conducted by the job site Adzuna revealed

The gender pay gap in the aerospace sector has dropped by 26% over the past year, but has widened significantly in areas such as law and engineering, according to analysis conducted by the job site Adzuna.

The UK's gender pay gap widened to 35% in March 2024, hitting a two-year peak, Adzuna's research suggests. From Q1 2023 to Q1 2024, the pay gap in the legal sector rose by 26% to become 53%. Meanwhile, the gap in engineering rose by 23% to 52%.

Other industries with widening pay gaps include management and consulting (up by 19%), sales (up by 18%), and marketing (up by 16%).

Andrew Hunter, Adzuna's co-founder, said that the pay gaps in these traditionally male-dominated industries show a deep-rooted bias: “The persisting widening pay gap is particularly prevalent among traditionally male-dominated sectors such as engineering and construction, reflecting ongoing occupational segregation and deeply rooted societal bias in the country. Gender pay gaps exceeding 50% are indefensible. 

“Employers must act decisively to close the gender pay gap by ensuring equal pay and increasing female representation in senior leadership positions.”

Read more: Goldman Sachs pay gap hits 54%

Exceptions include aerospace and banking and finance. The gender pay gap in aerospace narrowed by 26%, dropping from 55% in Q1 2023 to 29% in Q1 2024. Meanwhile, the gender pay gap in banking and finance shrank 7.9%, reaching 29.5% in Q1 2024 from 37.4% in Q1 2023. 

Claire Williams, chief people and operations officer at HR software provider Ciphr, said pay parity in the UK is ‘incredibly disappointing’, but it is important to celebrate progress.

She told HR magazine: "Gender pay parity in the UK still seems a long way off. This latest research, showing such large pay gaps across multiple sectors, is incredibly disappointing.

"There are green shoots that we should celebrate though. Progress in aerospace, while it still has significant work to do, is promising and could be attributed to several factors. 

“There has, for example, been a concerted effort by industry leaders and policymakers to address gender disparities through targeted initiatives and policies, including mentorship programmes, diversity hiring practices, and equal pay audits.”

Female graduates earned an average of 11% more than male graduates.

Williams commented: "It’s a promising sign for future gender pay equity, and suggests that young women are entering the workforce with strong qualifications and negotiating power. 

“It is crucial, however, that employers ensure that this continues into sustained career growth and equitable pay as they progress.”

Writing in HR magazine last year, Labour MP Jess Phillips, now a minister in the Home Office, said that employers should focus on closing pay gaps for both moral and economic reasons.

She said: “This is an issue we cannot ignore, not just for moral reasons – in a modern liberal democracy, no one should be held back from achieving their goals because of their gender – but for economic ones, too.

PwC has estimated that closing the pay gap across the OECD could increase total female earnings by $2 trillion (£1.6 trillion).

“Closing the gender pay gap would strengthen the economy as higher wages would encourage more women to either enter the labour market or extend their working hours.”

Read more: Closing the gender pay gap will empower women and deliver economic growth

The Adzuna team analysed 672,311 CVs uploaded to its AI-powered CV screening tool ValueMyCV between January 2022 and March 2024, to reveal the average earning likelihood of male and female jobseekers.