SO FEMALE tennis players are "greedy", according to Tim Henman, for demanding equal pay. Then what about all the men who in almost every aspect of life are paid more than their women colleagues?

Across the upper echelons of showbusiness, academia, industry and the judiciary, and with a few notable exceptions, women are still banging their heads against the glass ceiling as it affects incomes.

Henman's outburst coincided with the release of the Bett report on academic pay which found that women lecturers receive, on average, less than pounds 29,000 a year compared to more than pounds 32,000 for their male counterparts. The report's all-male review panel warned that universities could face legal action from women employees unless they took steps to redress the balance.

And it is not just the universities, supposedly bastions of political correctness, which have a problem with equal pay.

Channel 4's Countdown genius Carol Vorderman is believed be the highest paid female television presenter after striking her much-publicised pounds 5m deal with the station. But the deal is based over five years and her estimated annual pay from her writing, television and commercial work is pounds 2.5m. That is still less than the pounds 3m salary enjoyed by her rival Chris Tarrant, host of ITV's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Capital Radio disc jockey.

On Coronation Street, the highest earner is a woman - Barbara Knox, aka Rita Sullivan, who has an annual basic salary of pounds 171,787. The leading male, Bill Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, receives pounds 166,684.

Among big-screen stars, women also appear to trail. Sean Connery, the country's highest-grossing male actor, commands around pounds 8m a movie, with Anthony Hopkins trailing on less than pounds 3m.

Emma Thompson, regarded by insiders as one of Britain's highest earners, gets around pounds 3m a film, while the more populist Kate Winslet, star of Titanic and Hideous Kinky, is estimated to receive pounds 850,000 a year. Catherine Zeta Jones, though, is making the greatest strides for British female stars, now commanding a reputed pounds 5m a film.

Middle-ranking female actors still face an uphill battle, according to research by the actors' union Equity. It found that, on average, they receive 34 per cent less for lead roles.

Sometimes the remedy lies in the women's hands. When Caroline Quentin and Leslie Ash found they were being paid pounds 25,000 less per series than their Men Behaving Badly co-stars Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey, their threat to walk out was rewarded with a pay rise.

Women trail in radio, too. Sue MacGregor, the long-standing presenter of Radio 4's Today programme, was shocked to discover that her pounds 100,000 salary was pounds 20,000 less than anchors John Humphrys and James Naughtie received.

In pop, a survey by the magazine Q found that the highest women earners in Britain and Ireland are Enya and Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries, who have both amassed pounds 30m from their careers. But they rank only 27th in the pantheon, behind the likes of Rod Stewart, worth pounds 60m, U2, worth pounds 90m each, Sting, worth pounds 90m and Paul McCartney, worth pounds 500m.

According to Nicholas Clee, editor of the Bookseller, things are different in publishing, where there is a clear relationship between author popularity and prestige and reward.

"There is no difference in royalties between the sexes," he said. "In commercial fiction, my guess is that higher advances are going to women than men."

Delia Smith, who is one of the country's highest earning authors, is estimated to be worth pounds 24m, though Jeffrey Archer's writing is thought to have made him pounds 50m. However the richest author in Britain is likely to be Barbara Taylor Bradford, who is worth pounds 60m.

Women in business are earning higher salaries than ever, but so are men with the result that, apart from a few exceptions, pay differentials remain.

The chief executive of Pearson, Marjorie Scardino, is the only women in the top 20 highest paid people in quoted companies. Her entry at number 18 on the PriceWaterhouseCoopers corporate register follows a 47.5 per cent pay rise which took her salary up to pounds 1.04m.

Lawrence Fish, the pounds 3.2m-a- year director of Royal Bank of Scotland, tops the list and Sir Richard Sykes, chairman of Glaxo Wellcome earns pounds 1.86m.

"It's still a very tough, macho world out there," said Philip Beresford, who compiled the list. However he is optimistic about more women reaching the top because of the growing importance of "female" skills needed for better communication and motivation.

Even among law professionals, men and women are not treated as equals when it comes to pay. Cherie Booth earns around pounds 200,000 a year as one of the country's top barristers, yet only one of the 15 QCs who make more than pounds 1m each year is a woman - Elizabeth Gloster.

The situation is similar with solicitors. According to Angela Morgan, who chairs the Association of Women Solicitors, significant pay differentials exist even between practice partners.

Research conducted by the Law Society found that women solicitors often earned less than their male counterparts with similar experience, and that the gap increased the higher up the scale they went.

WHY WOMEN SHOULD GET LESS, ACCORDING TO MEN

Rev Thomas Gisborne in 1797: "Politics and commercial enterprise demand the efforts of a mind endued with the powers of close and comprehensive reasoning, and of intense and continued application, in a degree in which they are not requisite for the discharge of the customary offices of female duty."

Royal Commission on Equal Pay, 1946: "To grant equal pay generally might create a sense of injustice among men who regarded their work as superior ... and would force down wages for both sexes."

Tim Henman, British No 1: "I think they [female tennis players] should worry about getting their own tournaments at a bigger and better level and then worry about the grand slams. If they are still saying they want more in the grand slams, I think that's probably a bit greedy."

John Curry, All England Club chairman: "We do surveys on a regular basis and more than 70 per cent of people say they want to watch men's singles."

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