Women can expect to make £300,000 less than men over the course of their careers, according to new research.
The news came as The Times reported that women in the department run by Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan are paid almost £2 an hour less than men.
Figures drawn up by recruitment company Robert Half -- ahead of International Women’s Day on Tuesday -- showed men were paid an average of £5,732 a year more than women, the Guardian reported.
Over a career of 52 years, the average man would make about £298,000 more than the average women.
Sam Smethers, chief executive of women’s organisation the Fawcett Society, said: “The gender pay gap becomes a significant lifetime pay penalty.
“The gap widens for older women and becomes a significant pensions gap in retirement. The impact of having children means that as men’s careers take off women’s often stagnate or decline.
“Their salaries never fully recover. We have to make it easier for men to share care, create flexibility first at work and open up more senior roles as quality part-time jobs.”
Katy Tanner, director at Robert Half UK, said employers who wanted to attract the best staff should address the situation.
“As in-demand candidates continue to be in the driver’s seat, employers are needing to offer competitive remuneration and benefits packages above industry averages,” she said.
“International Women’s Day provides a platform to highlight the importance for rewarding all employees fairly on the basis of their contribution to the organisation, than their gender or indeed any other point of difference.”
Meanwhile The Times reported that women in Ms Morgan’s department earned an average of £20.54 an hour, compared to £22.30 for men.
She has recently announced plans to “name and shame” firms that do not pay women the same as men.
Lucy Powell, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “This is deeply embarrassing for the education secretary who is also the government’s lead equalities minister.
“If Nicky Morgan is unable to tackle the gender pay gap in her own department for women and equalities, what can she do?”
However a Department for Education spokesman said the current Government had “gone further than ever before in tackling the gender pay gap”.
“Only last month we unveiled a raft of measures requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap and we are extending that duty across the public sector,” he said.
“We have a world class civil service that is increasingly equal and more diverse than the majority of British employers.”
He said the department’s gender pay gap had fallen in recent years and there had been an increase in the number of women employed in senior roles.