The pay gap between men and women working in London has barely changed in over two decades, new ONS analysis shows.

While in 1997 the capital had the narrowest gender pay gap, there has been little improvement since then. Other regions in the UK have seen more movement towards pay equality over time.

Women working full-time in London earned 15.1% less per hour, on average, than their male counterparts 20 years ago. This has only narrowed slightly in 2017, to 14.6% in favour of men.

London is now the region with the biggest pay gap, on average, between male and female full-time workers in the UK.

The analysis also demonstrates striking changes in the gender pay gap when it comes to where you work, the hours you work, and also whether you work in the public or private sector.

Devolved nations are closest to pay equality

In the last two decades, consecutive governments have sought to address the gender pay gap using legislation. One of the most recent is legislation requiring all companies with more than 250 employees to publish the gender pay gap among their staff.

There are still clear regional differences in earnings between men and women working full-time. In Northern Ireland, women earn 3.4% more per hour, on average, than their male counterparts, the only region in the UK where the pay gap has been in favour of women, and this has been the case since 2010.

The gap in Wales and Scotland has narrowed over the last two decades, and now women earn 6.3% and 6.6% per hour less than men, respectively. In 1997, women earned 17.5% less than men in Wales, and 18.4% less in Scotland.

Among part-time workers, the picture is a little different regionally. The gender pay gap has reversed in some places, with women now earning more, on average, than men across all regions. The pay differences are largest in Northern Ireland, London and Wales.

The gap in the North East was particularly large in 1997 with part-time women earning 7.2% less per hour, on average than men, and now women earn 3.6% more than men.

The region with the smallest gender pay gap is the South East, where women earn just 3.1% more per hour, on average, than men. This gap has actually reduced from women earning 9.0% more than men in 1997, suggesting that men’s wages have grown quicker than women’s in this area.

Gender pay gap per hour by region and country, 1997 and 2017, UK

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Part-time workers in the public sector have seen the gender pay gap widen over the last 20 years.

Women working part-time earned 6.1% per hour less than men working part-time in 1997, whereas in 2017 they earn 22.3% less.

In the private sector, the opposite is true. In 1997, women working part-time earned 2.2% less than men. In 2017, the gap has reversed and women now earn 2.6% more than men. The gap has been in favour of women since 2010.

Gender pay gap per hour for part-time workers by public and private sector, 1997 and 2017, UK

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The gender pay gap for full-time workers looks different again to those working part-time.

In the private sector, the gender pay gap has reduced somewhat. Women earned 23.8% less than men in 1997, and now earn 15.9% less.

Although the public sector gender pay gap for full-time workers is still smaller than that of the private sector, it has not narrowed much in the last 20 years. Women earn 13.1% less per hour, on average, than men. This has reduced from 13.5% in 1997.

Gender pay gap per hour for full-time workers by public and private sector, 1997 and 2017, UK

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The gender pay gap has traditionally widened with age as women spend time outside the labour market. This could be due to taking time out to have children, or to take career breaks for other reasons.

The gap has decreased dramatically for older women working part-time, with pay levels being virtually indistinguishable for older women compared with their younger counterparts. This follows a number of UK government and European Union policies aimed at encouraging these women back into the labour market and at an equal pay level with men.

Gender pay gap per hour for 18-49 year olds, full-time and part-time, 1997 to 2017, UK

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Looking at older women in full-time work, while the gap has certainly decreased over time, it is still much higher than the gap for younger women 20 years ago. This suggests that making effective laws and rules around equalising pay for this group of workers has proved much more challenging.

Gender pay gap per hour for 18 to 49 year olds, 1997 and 2017, UK

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Notes

This analysis is based on employees on adult rates whose pay for the survey pay-period was not affected by absence.

The gender pay gap is calculated as the difference between median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) of men and women as a proportion of median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) of men.

Full-time is defined as employees working more than 30 paid hours per week (or 25 or more for the teaching professions).

Analysis by age is limited to the 18 to 49 bands due to changes in age categories over time in the underlying published Annual of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) reference tables. This discontinuity does not affect regional, public and private analysis.

Private sector comprises of businesses whose legal status is defined as “Company”, “Sole proprietor” or “Partnership”; public sector comprises of those defined as “Public corporation”, “Central government” or “Local authority”.

It should be noted that gender pay gap figures presented in this article are affected by factors such as proportion of men and women working part-time or in different occupations such as administration and caring, which tend to offer lower salaries. These factors have not been controlled for in this analysis

View all data used in this article

Related

  • Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings

    Data on levels, distribution and make-up of earnings and hours worked for UK employees by sex and full-time or part-time status in all industries and occupations.