Gender pay gap: Survey reveals women expect less than men in order to be 'successful'

A survey of male and female UK workers found women's expectations what makes a 'successful' salary £4,000 lower than men, despite expressing hopes of progressing faster

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The gender pay gap could come into place before a woman’s career even begins, as new figures reveal a £4,000 difference between what women count as “successful” compared to their male counterparts.

In a survey of 2,000 UK workers aged 18-55, women admitted to having higher ambitions in wanting to achieve key career milestones earlier than men. 

The average salary that women deemed to be a marker of success came to £54,000; however the same number of men said they expected to earn £58,000 before they considered themselves successful in their field. 

The need to feel accomplished in the workplace was found to be equally important to both sexes; however research suggests that almost half of women want to feel successful before the age of 40, compared to 39 per cent of men.

As many as one in three women hope to earn their ideal salary by the age of 35, compared to just one in four men – suggesting men felt less pressure to move up the employment ladder quickly. 

While women tend to be more ambitious at a younger age, men are more likely to desire the independence and responsibility – and the resulting exposure to risk – of leadership positions. 

The majority of men said they equate career success with having a position of power and autonomy – either by owning their own company or by having a seat on the board – while more women said they believed in a good work-life balance.

On average, men also expect to manage 30 per cent more people than women.

The research found that although the majority of workers (68 per cent) do see a healthy salary as a sign of career success, other indicators of fulfilment have changed. 

Old-fashioned markers of success such as golf days and business lunches are firmly out of favour, with a desire for a good work-life balance favoured by 75 per cent of workers. Being able to work flexibly is also a sign of success to over a third of workers – 42 per cent of women and 31 per cent of men. 

“This is why we need to have pay transparency," said Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, commenting on the figures. “Women need to know what their colleagues are earning particularly when entering a new job or starting out in their career.”

“Women are less likely to negotiate themselves a decent salary, which is a risk we can avoid from day one. There's also a duty on the employer to make that the case.”

From October 2016, regulations are due to come into place making it compulsory for all large UK employers  report gender pay gaps within their workforce. 

“This is an incentive for employers to address pay differences within their organisations,” said Ms Smethers, “What we don't want to see is gender pay gaps introduced from day one.”