Students Staff

02 June 2016

University of Essex closes gender pay gap for female professors

The University of Essex is taking a significant stride towards gender equality by closing the pay gap for female professors.

The whole higher education sector faces a challenge in dealing with the gender pay gap at professorial level and the University has already taken a wide range of steps to address the issue.

In support of this work, the University’s Council has now approved plans which mean that female professorial staff will receive a one off uplift to their salaries, to ensure the pay gap is completely closed by October 2016.

No significant pay gaps have been identified at other grades and for other staff groups and the University will be taking further steps to ensure this remains the case including regular equal pay audits.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: “Treating our staff with equal respect and dignity is at the very core of our values as a diverse and inclusive community.

“This decision ensures we reward people in a fair way, based upon their contribution to our community, regardless of their personal characteristics.”

The action to close the pay gap in this way takes place alongside a very wide range of other actions including appointing a gender equality champion within the senior team, targeted awareness campaigns, mentoring, career workshops, and the creation of a Women’s Network and Parent’s Network. Senior staff have also been asked to encourage female professors to apply for salary uplifts when it is appropriate. Further work will cover recruitment and training to combat unconscious bias.

The University is also committed to the Athena SWAN Charter programme, which encourages and recognises progress on gender equality issues. The University received the Athena SWAN Gender Equality Charter Mark as an institution in 2014, the School of Health and Human Sciences and School of Biological Sciences hold bronze awards, and departments across the University are working towards accreditation.

The University’s Council has also just approved a new Work Life Balance Policy which encourages flexible working amongst staff. Alongside new guidance on flexible working options available to staff, the policy also introduces a career break scheme and home working guidance.

Professor Forster: “We believe flexible working is not about preferential treatment, or treating everyone the same, it’s about working together to find the right solutions to meet the needs of individual staff and our University.

“We want to increase the number of staff taking advantage of flexible working arrangements because it improves the well-being of staff, but also helps performance and motivation."

The decision to end the gender pay gap at professorial level builds on the University’s work over the last year to improve pay and working conditions for staff including ensuring staff are paid at least the living wage.

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