If you thought the UK was waving goodbye to the gender pay gap, you might want to think again. The biggest ever study into public sector pay has found that the NHS gender pay gap is especially wide for GPs. So wide, in fact, that male family doctors are earning a third more on average than their female colleagues.
Commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care in 2018, the Gender Pay Gap in Medicine Review is set to publish a full report in September. But initial findings have already hit headlines. As the Guardian reports, female GPs earn an average annual salary of £75,600. Men in the same position can expect to earn around £113,600.
The gender pay gap is slightly narrower across the entire NHS (at 23 percent), but men in medicine are still earning £1.17 for every £1 earned by women. And female doctors across the board (including those who work in hospitals) are paid 17 percent less on average.
Potential reasons for this include the higher number of senior male doctors and disadvantages faced by women who work part-time or flexibly. "The founding principle of the NHS is to treat everyone equally, yet women employed in the health service are still experiencing inequality," said health minister Stephen Hammond in a statement. "It’s disappointing to see that the numbers show that two thirds of senior medics are men despite more women starting training."
The research — which was carried out by Professor Carol Woodhams and Surrey University academics — combined anonymous pay data, employee interviews, and an online survey filled out by 40,000 doctors. Despite these statistics, Professor Dame Jane Dacre (who is leading the overall review) said the research shows "the gender pay gap in medicine is slowly narrowing." However, she did add that there is "more to do."
Some GPs have expressed disappointment in the findings. “A GP is a GP. The way that GPs are paid is based on the number of hours they work and whether they are newly qualified or have been working a long time — the pay shouldn’t be that different," Dr. Zoe Norris told HuffPost. "I’m quite embarrassed to be saying to younger women coming into medicine that actually, maybe we don’t value you as much in general practice as in other branches of medicine."
According to a new study by Glassdoor Economic Research, the UK's overall gender pay gap is also slowly narrowing. It currently stands at 17.9 percent, a 5 percent decrease from 2016 figures. But some areas aren't showing any signs of improvement. Official government figures have revealed that the pay gap between male and female graduates in the UK has widened every year between 2014 and 2017, reports the Guardian.
At this rate, the World Economic Forum predicts it will take more than 200 years to fully close the global gap. In December 2018, the organisation reported women around the world were, on average, being paid 63 percent of what men earn. The UK was ranked 50 out of 149 countries. Shockingly (or perhaps not), not one country was found to pay women as much as men.
Employers, it's time to step it up.