The gender pay gap for women over 40 is almost double the average when they enter management – and it gets worse as they get older, a study has found.
The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that women over 40 in management roles are paid 35% less than men, a much greater disparity than the 19% average gap across the whole economy. Once women in senior jobs enter their 60s, the gender pay gap widens further to 38%.
The findings have been presented to the Women and Equalities select committee as part of a series of fact-finding missions by MPs regarding the level of pay discrimination between men and women.
Maria Miller, Tory MP for Basingstoke and chair of the committee, said it was important that women who secured higher ranking positions were rewarded in the same way as men.
Official earnings data shows that women in their 20s and 30s in full-time work are paid roughly the same as men, but a large gap opens up once they enter their 40s.
In her submission of evidence to the committee, CMI chief executive Ann Francke warned that there was little in the data to suggest the pay gap will disappear soon. If anything, female managers over the age of 40 face a bigger pay gap than a decade ago, she said.
“Female managers face what I believe is more of a ‘glass pyramid’ than a ceiling. The walls close in with every step up, and you’re likely to slip down the pecking order when it comes to pay.”
The CMI said that tackling the gender pay gap “will require a root and branch transformation of business culture to address unconscious bias”.
Francke said female managers at all levels face not only the traditional discrimination from “old-boys’ networks” but also “a more pervasive and potentially more damaging unconscious discrimination”.
She said: “Mothers returning to the workplace are often shepherded into part-time or less challenging roles to fit in with childcare from well-meaning but misguided managers.”
The CMI has recommended managers be held to account for combating pay inequality and businesses should be more transparent about pay levels and opportunities to progress up the levels of management.
In 2014, the gap between all male and female employees stood at 19.1%, measured by median gross hourly pay, including part-time workers and excluding overtime. For all full-time employees across all age groups, the gender pay gap is 9.4%.
Palmers’ Employment Law specialist Lara Murray said: “The findings of this report are disappointing but sadly not surprising. Despite legislation, which is there to protect employees’ rights to equality of pay, the reality is that far too many women are still not receiving the same pay as their male counterparts and it is encouraging that the government is putting the spotlight on this specific area of employment law.
“We can provide straightforward advice about unfair discrimination and we can assist in resolving any issues.”
For more information on Palmers’ range of employment law services including discrimination in the workplace, please contact us.