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Today is Equal Pay Day 2019

14 November 2019 | last updated: 5 March 2020

As you may know, today is Equal Pay Day 2019. From today until the end of the year, according to the most recent figures for the gender pay gap, women are on average working for free. Sadly, our educational institutions are significant contributors to this inequality.

The further education sector employs a high proportion of women as lecturers, but there remains a persistent gender pay gap at almost every level of career progression. Things get particularly bad at the top of the ladder, with women under-promoted to senior roles and under-rewarded for the work they do in them. See this UCU report for more information - and for guidance on what UCU can do to help tackle the issue in your institution.

In higher education, the mean hourly wage for women is 15.1% lower than it is for men. This inequality is compounded for black and minority ethnic (BME) women because of the severe gaps in pay and in job security that exist for BME staff, as UCU has highlighted. In some institutions pay inequality is growing. Those that are managing to reduce it often do so by outsourcing lower paid, disproportionately female staff so that they do not have to include them in their official figures.

We frequently meet employers to negotiate on these issues and it's fair to say that most employers have no interest in doing anything about them. I know that our employers encourage us to pour our time and energy into initiatives like Athena Swan - but sadly there is little evidence that Athena Swan awards have a positive impact on pay equality. UCU higher education branches are about to go on strike in our pay and equality dispute because we have got to a point where sustained industrial action is the only realistic way of getting our employers to treat inequality with the urgency it deserves.

Let's make this the year when all staff come together in solidarity to demand and win a fairer education system.

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary

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