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6 March 2017

Mixed picture for the gender pay gap by ethnicity

The Fawcett Society has today published new analysis of the gender pay gap by ethnicity, charting progress over more than 25 years.

The analysis reveals a mixed picture, with some minority ethnic groups making great strides while pay for others lags far behind. Fawcett has also calculated the gap within ethnic groups as well as the gap between minority ethnic women and White British men to reveal a clearer picture of gender inequality.

On the downside, the report reveals:

  • Black African women have seen virtually no progress since the 1990s in closing the gender pay gap with White British men, with a full-time pay gap of 21.4 per cent in the 1990s and 19.6 per cent today. When part-time workers are included this figure rises to 24 per cent.
  • Pakistani and Bangladeshi women experience the largest aggregate (i.e. including full-time and part-time workers) gender pay gap at 26.2 per cent.
  • Indian women experience the biggest pay gap with men in their ethnic group at 16.1 per cent.
  • White British women have a larger pay gap than Black Caribbean women, Indian women or those who identify as ‘White Other’.
  • Women who identify as ‘White Other’ are the only group who have seen their pay gap widen since the 1990s from 3.5 per cent to 14 per cent today. This is largely because the composition of this group has changed over time and is today largely comprised of Central and Eastern European migrant women, many of whom are in low paid work.
Commenting, Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said:

“This analysis reveals a complex picture of gender pay gap inequality. Black African women have been largely left behind, and in terms of closing the pay gap, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are today only where White British women were in the 1990s.”

On the upside, the report shows some women experiencing real progress:

  • Black Caribbean women in full-time work have overtaken Black Caribbean men so that they now have a reverse pay gap of -8.8 per cent.
  • Chinese women have reversed their pay gap since the 1990s. Those in full-time work now earn more per hour than White British men (a reverse gap of -5.6 per cent), but the gap between Chinese men and women has widened from 4.6 per cent in 2000s, to 11.6 per cent in 2010s.
  • Indian women have seen the gender pay gap with White British Men narrow from 26 per cent in the 1990s to 6.3 per cent in 2010s for those working full-time and reduce by more than half over that period when including part-time workers (from 27 per cent to 12 per cent).
  • White Irish women have seen the most progress since the 1990s, overtaking White Irish men and White British men and now have a sizeable -17.5 per cent full-time pay gap. White Irish women are more likely to be older, working full-time or in senior or managerial roles.
Sam Smethers adds: 

“For women in some ethnic groups a combination of higher education, concentration in better paid professions and more women working full-time has seen their gender pay gap narrow or even reverse when compared with White British men. However, when compared with men of their own ethnicity the pay gap has either widened over time (Chinese women) or narrowed at a much slower rate (Indian women), indicating that they are still experiencing gender inequality.

“The exception to this is Black Caribbean men who are faring considerably worse in the labour market both in terms of pay and participation than Black Caribbean women. However, Black Caribbean women still experience discrimination.

“We have to address pay inequality for all, and look behind the headline figures to get a true picture of what is going on. We also have to understand and address the combined impact of race and gender inequality. As a minimum the ONS should routinely collect and publish this data.”

Gender Pay Gap by Ethnicity in Britain calls for 5 key actions:
  • Collect the data
  • Increase pay for the lowest paid
  • Address the unequal impact of caring roles
  • Tackle multiple discrimination
  • Ensure progression for a diversity of women
You can read the full report here.


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