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Mind the gap – new study examines pay and job rank among academic economists

Posted on 29 April 2019

The pay gap between male and female economists at UK universities has not fallen for 20 years, a new study has revealed.

Data was obtained from more than 70 institutions across the UK

The number of women economists has changed dramatically over the last two decades, with the number of female academics in the discipline increasing from less than one-in six in 1996, to more than one-in-four in 2016.

However, in 2016 women held only 16% of the Economics Chairs in the UK. Unlike the STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines, with similarly low female participation rates, economics has attracted very little attention.


New analysis of data obtained from more than 70 institutions across the UK reveals a gender pay gap of 15% amongst academic economists.

 A small proportion of this gap can be explained by men being older and married but women are not found to be less qualified or less productive.

Professor Karen Mumford, from the University’s Department of Economics and Related Studies, said: “We find little explanation of the gap from measures of individual productivity, although men (positively) and women (negatively) are rewarded very differently for having excellent teaching evaluations.”

The total “unexplained” pay gap is substantial at 12.7%. Half of it is from lack of promotion and half of it is from male professors earning more than females, the study revealed.


“In contrast to national gender pay gaps, and evidence from other disciplines, the pay gap amongst academic economists in the UK has not fallen since the turn of the century,” Professor Mumford added.  

“The gap is substantial, and it is strongly influenced by the relative concentration of men amongst Professors where the unexplained gender pay differential is considerable.”

“The study also reveals that men are 11 % more likely than women to be promoted to Professor, and amongst Professors men earn 11% more than women.”

Professor Mumford added: “Our results imply that universities need to reconsider the implementation of their equal pay policy in Economics Departments.”


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About this research

The findings are published in the British Journal of Industrial Relations and involved the University of York, Institute for the Study of Labour and the University of Sheffield.

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