New Study Shows How Much Less UK Women Get Paid In Jobs Where They Are The Majority

Friday 29th May 2020 marked 50 years since the Equal Pay Act received royal assent in the UK, meaning employers were prohibited from paying women less than men for the same job.

Although unequal pay is now illegal, the gender pay gap – the percentage difference between the average hourly earnings for men and women – persists.

Despite efforts to close the gap, it’s 2020 and women are still underpaid and undervalued across the UK. (Data from the ONS shows that women on average earn 17.2% less than men). The gender pay gap is so deeply ingrained into our culture that in two-thirds of jobs that are dominated by women, men have a higher rate of pay for doing the same work. This includes professions such as dentists, librarians, and public health managers. At the present rate of reduction, women won’t receive equal pay for another 60 years.

That got the team at thinking: With women leading the workforce in a vast number of jobs, is there at least smaller pay gap in those cases?

To investigate, used ONS figures to identify the 57 female-dominated jobs for which men are paid more. They then found the pay gap for each of these professions. Next, they illustrated these disparities with a scatter graph and a series of charts to show just how each occupation and industry fares for gender pay bias.

Some key findings:

  • Women comprise 55.6% of dental practitioners, but on average they get
    paid 39.3% less (£26,451) than their male colleagues. This is the biggest gender pay gap in the UK.
  • More than three-quarters of cleaners are female (76.8%), but men earn 35.2% more (£4,136) for doing the same job.
  • Health and social care is the sector with the highest number of unevenly paid trades. Twelve predominantly female professions – from dentist to nurse to senior care worker – have a large gap.
  • The biggest scandal is in education. More than three-quarters of nursery and primary teachers, library workers, and special needs professionals are women, yet they are all subject to a considerable pay gap.
  • Inequality affects society’s lowest earners the most. Eight of the top 10 jobs with the biggest gender pay gap see women earning below the national average income of £24,897.
  • In 227 occupations (79% of those listed), men earn more than women. Women earn more than men in just 59 out of 286 occupations (20%).

The analysis confirms that even in professions where they are the majority, women are still more likely to get paid lower salaries when compared to their male counterparts. With this report, aims to shed light on the current state of gender pay gap across the UK – particularly in those industries where women represent the majority of the workforce.

Top 10 jobs dominated by women with the biggest gender pay gap

These are the occupations where more than half the employees are women, but where men earn more:

The scatter graph below illustrates the pay gap of the 57 female-dominated jobs against the proportion of women in each profession. You can hover or tap on each dot to reveal the title, percentage of female workers, and pay discrepancy of each job. 

The graph reflects the broader findings: the proportion of women in a profession doesn’t correlate with the gap in earnings. In other words, women in both the most- and least-male-dominated industries are at risk of being short-changed to the same extent. 

The only exception is at the extreme end. There are ten occupations where women have 80% of the jobs, and most of these tend to have a lower – yet still unacceptable – pay gap of 1-5%.


To show just how wide the pay gap looks in each industry, the team created a series of charts showing the 57 female-dominated occupations where women are paid less.

The Impact

The gender pay gap is one of the most significant blots on modern society, not least because full reform is so long overdue. And unequal pay for women is just one strand to be considered at the intersection of equal rights and worker rights in general. People of color, disabled workers, and the working class are all victims of a pay gap, despite the fact that all these groups have to fight harder to get jobs in the first place. Must we wait another 60 years for governments and employers to fix a broken system? 


To create these visualizations, started by determining a list of professions that are dominated by women. They looked at the occupations list from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (2019), and reduced it to individual occupations, removing groups of occupations and occupational categories from the data. They then removed occupations that employment split by gender wasn’t available. Next, they filtered out occupations, where less than 50% of employees were women. Finally, they excluded occupations without a pay gap (see definition below).

Next, they determined the pay gap. The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings reports the gender pay gap based on the median rate of hourly pay, excluding overtime, and it’s calculated as a percentage difference between men’s and women’s median hourly pay. They only included occupations that had a pay gap based on this official calculation. For those occupations, they have also calculated the pay gap based on men’s and women’s median annual pay to reflect the difference in yearly earnings. Cases where a pay gap only exists in the hourly rate and not annual pay are likely down to the varying number of hours worked by men and women in a given occupation each year.


You can see the data behind this study here:

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