Gender pay gap at Queen's University to be narrowed but will remain

The ruling senate of Queen's plans to close the gender pay gap among professors

THE pay gap between male and female professors at Queen's University Belfast, which has drawn fierce criticism, is to remain for at least another seven years.

The university came under fire from staff after a study found it had the widest gender pay gap among senior academics of 24 leading institutions in Britain and Northern Ireland.

In 2015/16, female professors at Queen's earned an average of £69,910 compared to £81,708 for males, a gap of £11,798, or almost 17 per cent.

Figures showed that this was the highest among the Russell Group, a body made up of leading research universities.

The University and College Union (UCU) has said the issue has been raised on numerous occasions.

Queen's agreed to take steps to close the gap and held meetings earlier in the summer at which proposals were put forward to tackle the problem. These included changes to pay scales and mentoring for female professors.

Staff have now been told that the ruling senate considered a comprehensive paper and presentation on proposals to reduce the professorial gender pay gap.

These proposals, the senate said, were developed following extensive consultation with the professoriate, UCU and Equality Commission.

The senate said its "short-term actions" would have an immediate beneficial impact on the pay gap. It is understood this will be achieved by making amendments to the pay points within professorial salary ranges.

The senate also approved a medium-to-longer-term action plan. This aims to reduce the overall professorial gap to below 10 per cent by next year, below 7.5 per cent by 2021 and to 5 per cent or below by 2024.

Queen's said it was "committed to the principle of equal pay for equal work". In support of this principle, a spokeswoman said, the university conducted equal pay audits every three years.

Employers must, by law, pay men and women the same amount to do the same job. The gender gap, meanwhile, is the difference in average earnings between men and women.

The spokeswoman said the most recent equal pay audit "identified a gender pay gap at professorial level and the university has taken positive steps to address this, informed by a comprehensive review".

"In June 2017, senate approved the implementation of a holistic action plan which has been developed in consultation with the professoriate and the University and College Union. Implementation of this plan will be managed and monitored by a dedicated project group.

"We continue to work closely with the Queen’s Gender Initiative to positively support the career development of all women in the university."

At Ulster University, the gender pay gap among professors in 2015/16 was smaller - females earned an average of £68,924, compared to £72,241 for males.

  • Queen's University maintains that its gender pay gap is 14.4 per cent - saying there is an alternative way to work out the percentage difference.

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