New figures show that since 2010, female lecturers at the University of Liverpool have earned between £1,893 and £3,220 less than their male counterparts.
A freedom of information request from the Liverpool Echo revealed that there remains a significant gap between the average pay of male and female academics at the University of Liverpool over the last 5 years.
Information released by the university revealed a £3,220 pay gap in 2010, £2,727 in 2011, £1,270 in 2012, £2,014 in 2013 and £1,893 pay gap in 2014.
Although the gap is narrowing, continued difference in pay reflects an issue that affects women in Britain across the board, with an average national gap of 10.6% between the earnings of men and women. Some have argued that these discrepancies demonstrate the continued gender inequality issues faced by women in the workplace despite the Equal Pay Act having been in place since 1970.
A University of Liverpool spokesperson said: “The University is committed to the principle of equal pay and we work hard to ensure our pay systems are fair. We constantly seek to eliminate unlawful sex discrimination and monitor the gender balance of applicants as well as promotions for all positions, for any gender bias.
“We are working across the University to understand more about the factors that impact on pay for men and women, which include the proportion of male and female academics; part time working; the use of fixed term contracts; distribution of genders across pay grades and where individuals sit within pay scales.” Even the university’s highest earners are affected; Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, who earned approximately £339,000 in 2014/15, earns 9% less than her predecessor Sir Howard Newby, who retired in December 2014, having earned £368,000 in his final year.
Beer’s lower pay may be a reflection of her relatively recent appointment – her earnings could potentially increase the longer she remains in the position as per the norm of most roles. Addressing this particular statistic, the University spokesperson said: “Vice-Chancellors’ remuneration packages reflect what it takes to attract, retain and reward individuals of sufficient calibre, experience and talent in an increasingly competitive sector. Our Vice-Chancellor’s salary reflects her exceptional and significant expertise in the HE sector.” This leaves the possibility for Mrs Beer’s pay to rise to the level of Sir Newby’s in the future.
Olivia Young, of UoL’s Feminist Society, said “I am surprised that the gap is so high. You just don’t expect things like this to be happening in the 21st century”. She admitted: “It’s incredibly demotivating as a female student, for my university to have this issue. It would stop me becoming a lecturer.”
Young added: “I don’t really understand how women are being paid so much less. To me it seems super simple: just pay them more.”
Regarding the challenges faced by female academics at the University, Dr Deana Heath, Senior Lecturer in Indian and Colonial History, said that while she didn’t “feel in any way underappreciated as a female colleague,” at Liverpool, the “gender imbalance in institutions of higher education is significant.” She feels that unfortunately “there’s something inevitable about that kind of dynamic.”
She added that “challenges relate to every academic who works [at the university] but they could potentially effect women more, certainly at certain stages of their career and those with young families.”