Cambridge – bastion of male dominance – still! So- I’ve referred the buggers to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission for investigation.
It’s because of the appallingly wide gap between what the university pays men and women. The university’s own Equal Pay Report shows that men are paid on average nearly a third more than women – £37,157 compared to £28,247.
There are two reasons for the gap – if you compare people on each pay grade, then for two-thirds of the grades, women on that grade get paid less than men – and also the higher the grade, the higher the proportion of men. At the most senior level, there are seven men for every woman – but even for those women who have reached the very top, they are still being paid less than men in the same position.
So there are some real questions for the university to answer – but there seems to be too much complacency around, particularly in the half-baked attempted explanation that men get paid more because they tend to be pay on a higher pay grade. Well, duh! But why is that the case? And why, even when people are on the same grade, men usually get paid more?
There are some professions where change in pay and equal opportunities has been slow and a long time coming. I have a smidgen of sympathy for those where you have to have many years of service in order to get to the very top – and there is at least an argument that those years are needed to gain the necessary experience. The Law Lords might be a case in point.
But academia – despite its rather fusty image at times – is not one of those. Look at what happens to the youngest and brightest new academic stars – they are often snapped up and become professors at a young age. Decades of service are not needed.
The gap at grade 12 (the top pay grade) is over 5%, which is the threshold where, under the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s guidelines action should be taken. The university is trying to wriggle out of this by saying the gap is under 5% – if you exclude “market pay supplements and other pensionable and non pensionable payments”. In other words – the gap is smaller, if you ignore bits of it. Not got enough. Pay is pay. So – over to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission!