The gender pay gap

I attended the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) ‘Time for action: achieving a gender balance in engineering’ workshop last month on behalf of the BINDT Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group (DIAG).

RAEng recently collected pay data for 42,000 employees from 25 companies as part of a research project looking into the gender pay gap within the engineering sector and the workshop shared the findings from this research with the engineering community.

One of the research findings was that there was widespread confusion among engineers and engineering employers about what the gender pay gap actually means and so the workshop emphasised the importance of understanding the difference between the gender pay gap and equal pay.

The gender pay gap is defined as the difference in average hourly earnings for all men and all women across an organisation, a sector or the economy as a whole. It is an indicator of gender parity within a workforce – the more men in senior positions or in roles with higher pay in an organisation, the larger the gender pay gap. Equal pay, on the other hand, is paying men and women the same salary for the same (or similar) work and it has been unlawful not to since 1970.

The research also highlighted that there is less than a 1% difference in pay between a male and female engineer, but a significant difference in the gender pay gap; this gap is largely due to an underrepresentation of women in more senior and higher-paid roles. However, it is evident that the underlying causes of the engineering gender pay gap are not very well understood and there is a low level of awareness of publicly available reports that identify measures that are proven to make the most difference to pay and progress for women.

The causes of the gender pay gap are structural and cultural and will not be fixed overnight. However, there are measures employers can take now that are proven to have a sustainable and positive impact on women’s pay and progression. RAEng offered practical recommendations that organisations can take, such as:
  • Understand the causes of the gender pay gap and which solutions are proven effective;
  • Analyse data to understand your organisation’s gender pay gap;
  • Introduce a transparent pay and progression policy and publish salary ranges;
  • Publish a credible action plan; and
  • Create an inclusive culture promoting and role-modelling flexible working.

Implementing these measures more widely will help to close the pay gap, not just for women but for other groups who are underrepresented in higher-paid senior roles in engineering.

The research collected data from medium and large employers (ie organisations with 250 employees or more) across a range of engineering professions, which provides a good baseline for data collection and measuring impact, but it also got me thinking about smaller organisations; what does the gender pay gap look like there and how can they tackle it?

I am interested to hear what organisations within our industry are doing to help work towards closing the gender pay gap. What measures are you implementing? What initiatives have you got in place to support an inclusive culture? Is there anything BINDT can do to support a more inclusive environment for its members? Is there any information that would be useful to help members implement changes within their workplaces?

To view the full ‘Closing the engineering gender pay gap’ report, visit:

If you have any thoughts or ideas, or are interested in joining the D&I Advisory Group, please get in touch:

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