Young women now earn more than men

Gender pay gap reversed among twentysomethings

Young women are finally gaining the recognition in their pay packets that their higher qualifications merit, according to new research.

Figures show that women aged between 22 and 29 in employment are now earning more on average per hour than men of the same age.

The figures were unearthed by Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admission Service, during research into the gender gap in education.

The women's lead in the pay stakes is still only slight – their median hourly pay is now just over £10 an hour compared with just under £10 an hour for men. But it reverses a historic trend. Ms Curnock Cook contrasted the findings with figures from 1997 which showed the opposite.

She said that the figures could indicate it had taken a long time for the fact that women were leaving school and university with better qualifications than men to filter its way into the workforce.

She argued that it could lead to young couples deciding after having a child that it makes sense for the woman to become the breadwinner – because of her higher earnings potential.

"The gender pay gap may take another generation to close as the pay feeds through to the more senior workforce," she said. The figures show that the gap between men and women's hourly pay is also closing among 18- to 21-year-olds and 30- to 39-year-olds.

It is only among older workers – 40- to 49-year-olds, many of whom would have left school before the explosion in women's qualifications began – that men remain significantly ahead of women, earning just over £14 per hour on average while women earn just £12.

Overall, too, the gap between the extra that women can expect to earn from obtaining a degree, and the extra men can expect, remains significant: £82,000 compared with £121,000.

Ms Curnock Cook, who was delivering the Elizabeth Johnson memorial lecture at the Institute of Physics, stressed: "I wouldn't want anyone to think I've come and solved the gender gap in pay rates." A number of factors could impact upon future earnings of men and women, she conceded. However, the figures did show it could make sense for some couples for the woman to go back to work after childbirth and for the man to take on the caring role.

Research by the Higher Education Policy Institute shows that women now not only outnumber men overall at university, but they also outnumber them at every type of university. They are also more likely to get a 2:1 degree pass and are less likely to drop out. The institute's figures show 49.2 per cent of women opt for higher education compared with just 37.2 per cent of men. In the post-1992 universities (the former polytechnics), there are 23.8 per cent of the women cohort and 18 per cent of men.

The latest exam statistics show the biggest gender gap in GCSE performance yet, with girls 6.7 percentage points ahead of boys at A* level, and with more than one in four (26.5 per cent) registering a top-grade pass this year. At A-level, though, the gap has closed with 8.2 per cent of each sex registering A* grades.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: "I am pleased that young females are now earning more but we still have a lot of work to do before we bridge the pay gap between men and women in higher education, especially at professorial level.

Last month, the Chartered Institute of Management reported that junior female managers are earning marginally more than their male peers for the first time, but that the pay gap stubbornly persists when averaged across all job and age levels. The institute warned that it would take a century before the average salary for female executives caught up with that of their male peers.

This month, the Supreme Court will hear a test case for equal pay brought by Sheffield dinner ladies and careworkers that could have implications for tens of thousands of women who claim they are paid less than men doing comparable jobs. The outcome could affect wages paid to council and NHS workers where some specialised roles have traditionally been performed almost exclusively by separate groups of men or women.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
Drinking - often heavily - is a running theme throughout HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation
food + drink
News
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living