International Women’s Day: NEU demands action on teaching gender pay gap

The country’s largest education union has demanded action to make teaching a “genuinely equal” profession for women.

To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, the National Education Union has challenged the government to address the fact that while teaching is a predominantly female job, women teachers are still paid less on average than men, on top of the burdens of unpaid overtime and the public sector pay cap.

The average pay for women teachers is £2,900 less than for men (£37,700 compared with £40,660), according to Department for Education data.

Our members will continue to challenge sexist stereotypes in the classroom

The pay gap is even worse in leadership positions, where women heads earn on average £5,700 less than men in equivalent roles.

Women headteachers aged 60 or over fare the worst, earning £13,500 (or 16 per cent) less than men. This is compared to £11,300 less for those in their 50s, £7,700 less for those in their 40s, and £5,400 less for those aged under 40.

An NEU pay survey last year also found a third of teachers who were eligible for progression but who had been absent for all or part of the 2016-17 school year due to pregnancy or maternity leave had been denied a new position.

More than half (61 per cent) of these teachers said that they had been specifically told that they had been denied progression because of their absence, even though maternity and pregnancy discrimination is unlawful.

The current overall gender pay gap between men and women stands at 18 per cent, but in education it is even wider, at 27 per cent. This means the average woman in teaching effectively works for free for even longer – more than a quarter of the year, or 97 days.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “paying lip service to the problem is not good enough”.

“We need to remove the barriers that stop women going into better paid, male-dominated professions, and we must improve pay for vital, but undervalued, jobs that are predominantly done by women,” she said.

Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, added: “Our members will continue to challenge sexist stereotypes in the classroom; the National Education Union will challenge unlawful discrimination in pay decisions. It is time for the government to step up and offer a fair deal for women teachers.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “We want to see more great teachers, both male and female, enter the profession and make sure that excellent female teachers get the right support and opportunities to progress into school leadership.

“To help do this, we have introduced a number of initiatives, such as the Women Leading in Education programme, and in December 2017 we announced an £1.8 million fund to help schools increase the diversity of their senior teams.

“We are one of the first countries in the world to require all large employers to publish their gender pay gap and bonus data. Employers in the public sector, including academy trusts, have until March 30, 2018 to report.”

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