In April 2018 we heard an enormous amount about gender pay gaps as all the data was revealed.

It concerned the arithmetic mean average of hourly pay of men in a workplace, the total pay received for an hour worked by all men divided by the number of men working in that workplace compared to the same for women, and the gap is then calculated as the difference between the two divided by the men’s pay.

In contrast, the median pay for each group is what the middle man and women receives when all men and women are separately sorted by their hourly rate of pay. All the data discussed below comes from here.

Early in March 2018 we learnt that the median average women worker at (alcohol shipping firm) Diageo Ltd is paid more than the median average man there . However as in almost workplaces, the mean (arithmetic) average male pay is higher than women in that company receive, as is the case in most workplaces today. This means that the gender pay gap in Diageo is widest for those men and women who are the best-paid in that firm.

The deadline for reporting pay gaps was Wednesday April 4th. Almost invariably the gaps were widest among the highest paid. Male and female cleaners tend to be paid similar amounts to each other, but not male and female managers, bankers or aeroplane pilots.

The early data showed the airlines to be most unequal. Thompson, Tui Airways, Jet2 and EasyJet, are all paying men at least 50% more than women on (mean) average. Think of Richard Branson carrying a female flight attendant over his shoulder for an image of this inequality. Airlines represent the industrial sector of Britain sector most out of touch with times.

Next there are the banks. Barclays pay 48% more to the men who work there than the women.

But very similar are the advertising firms. To keep up their mad-men credentials: WPP have been paying 52% more an hour to men. The legacies of Bob Diamond and Martin Sorrell live on. When Martin retires the WPP gap will drop substantially. Very often the pay of the ‘top man’ (occasionally top woman) makes a noticeable difference to the ratios of whole organisation, even large organisations.

Note that Martin stopped working for WPP in the very same month as this first pay gap data was revealed and: “less than a fortnight after it was confirmed the company was investigating an allegation of personal misconduct against him.” The times are a changing.

So, what was the variation see in a public service like education and how does it compare? By early March the Ocean Learning Trust based in Bournemouth, reported its men were receiving 40% more an hour than its women workers. Hopefully by the time you read this its explanatory report will be on the trusts’ website.

That report will undoubtedly say that men and women do very different jobs in the organisation, but that excuse can’t wash for the sector as a whole. The Ocean Learning Trust website does contain details of its male ‘thinker in residence’ who is helping them look forward to the future. I wonder if he saw this coming?

The Peninsula Learning Trust in Cornwall has been paying men, each on average for every hour worked, 35% more than women. The Eastern Multi-Academy Trust in Norfolk had a male pay rate that was 33% more per hour for men.

Men who work at the Greenhead College in Huddersfield are paid, on mean average, 24% more than women, and the median male worker is paid 40% more than the median female there. There is a terse 2 page ‘equality and diversity’ policy available on its website but that policy does not explain why –the (mean) average a man who works at Greenhead is paid for 6 hours a day the same that each women is paid for working 8; and the median pay divide is even more stark.

In my search for statistical answers I headed across the Pennines and into the private sector. Manchester Grammar School reports that its male workers are paid 15% more on the mean measure and 17% more on the median measure as compared to its women workers. A majority of workers at the school are female, including almost two thirds of all the workers paid below the median wage.

What about universities? The University of Salford ‘only’ pays women 14% less on mean average than men and the median man is paid 21% more for men there than for the median woman worker. This is probably better than the university sector as a whole.

In comparison, and a long way South-East, the University of Kent doesn’t do as well on the mean pay as Salford (women get 18% less than men in Kent), but it does do better on median pay (the median woman gets 10% less than the median man in Kent) . It would be useful to know if both universities interpreted the rules over who is included in these calculation in the same way.

Searching through the statistics of some of the first organisation to report in March 2018, I found the educational establishment that was then winning in the gender pay gap to be the Northern School Trust in Liverpool. Women there are paid a little more than men, 9% more on the mean average, 2% more on median pay! It is not preordained that women have to be paid less than men and to date there is no rule to explain the diversity of pay we currently see being revealed.

We will need more information in these reports in future to be sure that no one has made a big mistake in calculating their figures and that all establishments are interpreting the guidance in the same way. We will also need the reports that will accompany future releases every 12 months to begin to explain why the figures have changed as they have and why, if they are not favourable when compared to the sector as a whole, they have not improved. Simply saying we are doing better than the airline industry would not be ‘excellent’.

These are the first reports of their kind. Without them people in the sector where I work would never have known that gender pay inequalities in education were wider than on average. We would have continued to kid ourselves that we were a little more enlightened than the average industry. What we are finding is that we are not.

read more and PDF of this article in Public Sector Focus.

The Gender Pay Gap – what the first reports revealed