Gender pay gap statistics 2021

Research by CIPHR suggests that most employees think there is no gender pay gap where they work. The reality is somewhat different, with the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics revealing that many popular job roles in the UK have gender pay gaps. CIPHR analysed the official data to find out which occupations, industries, and geographical locations, have the widest and smallest gender pay gaps in 2021.

Popular occupations in the UK and their gender pay gaps

Based on the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, over 10.6 million people in the UK are employed in just 30 different job roles / occupations. Each of these jobs are held by over 200,000 people or more.

27 of the 30 — that’s 90% of these jobs — pay men more on average, with the gender pay gap in favour of men ranging from -3% for retail cashiers and check-out operators to 30.8% for financial managers and directors. The UK’s average gender pay gap in favour of men is 15.4% in 2021, up from 14.9% in 2020.

  • The three largest occupations in 2021, employing over 2.2 million people, are sales and retail assistants, care workers and home carers, and administrative / clerical assistants
  • The average gender pay gaps for sales and retail assistants, care workers and home carers, or administrative / clerical assistants are 5%, 1.7%, and 10.5% respectively (in favour of men)
  • The majority of people working as sales and retail assistants, care workers and home carers, or administrative / clerical assistants are women (64%, 83%, and 76% of women hold these roles respectively)
  • Nursing is the fourth largest occupation in the UK, with over a half a million (547,000) workers – 86% of which are women. It has a 4% gender pay gap in favour of men
  • The fifth largest occupation is sales accounts and business development managers, with 461,600 workers (only 40% of which are women) and a 12.5% gender pay gap in favour of men. So, women doing this job typically only earn an average 87p for every pound earned by a man
  • Only health professionals nec (not elsewhere classified by the ONS) — including audiologists, dental hygiene therapists, and occupational health advisers — and hairdressers and barbers are reported to have no gender pay gaps at all in 2021

In 2021, the top 30 jobs with the most employees in the UK (and their gender pay gaps) are:

Number of employees
(July 2020 – June 2021)
Average median gender pay gap in favour of men (%)
Sales and retail assistants 866,900 5%
Care workers and home carers 730,500 1.7%
Other administrative occupations n.e.c. (including administrative assistant, clerical assistant, clerical officer, clerk & office administrator) 641,100 10.5%
Nurses 547,000 4%
Sales accounts and business development managers 461,600 12.5%
Elementary storage occupations (including freight handler, order picker & warehouse worker) 427,400 7.4%
Programmers and software development professionals 421,400 4.8%
Book-keepers, payroll managers and wages clerks 407,500 7.9%
Kitchen and catering assistants 404,100 -1%
Primary and nursery education teaching professionals 401,200 1.6%
Nursing auxiliaries and assistants 398,200 3.4%
Secondary education teaching professionals 378,700 3.9%
Customer service occupations n.e.c. (including customer adviser, customer service administrator, customer service adviser, customer service assistant & customer services representative) 325,500 1.9%
Business and financial project management professionals 322,200 17.4%
Teaching assistants 318,200 5.6%
Cleaners and domestics 316,700 0.3%
Medical practitioners 279,000 6.3%
Financial managers and directors 276,800 30.8%
Managers and directors in retail and wholesale 251,300 16.1%
Large goods vehicle drivers 245,600 -0.9%
Production managers and directors in manufacturing 239,700 10.7%
IT specialist managers 238,500 20.7%
Retail cashiers and check-out operators 231,900 -3%
Van drivers 226,100 7%
Teaching and other educational professionals n.e.c. (including adult education tutor, education consultant, music teacher, nursery manager – day nursery & private tutor) 221,100 18%
Business and related associate professionals n.e.c. (including business systems analyst, data analyst, marine consultant, planning assistant, project administrator & project coordinator) 218,100 14.3%
Finance and investment analysts and advisers 218,000 6.1%
National government administrative occupations 208,400 5.6%
Higher education teaching professionals 206,900 10.8%
Information technology and telecommunications professionals n.e.c. (including IT consultant, quality analyst – computing, software tester, systems tester – computing & telecommunications planner) 203,100 8.6%

UK cities with the widest gender pay gaps in favour of men

Derby, St Albans and the City of London have the widest median gender pay gaps in the UK. Organisations based in these three cities have gender pay gaps of over 26% in favour of men (31.3%, 27.4%, and 26.3% respectively).

Other cities with gender pay gaps of 20% or more include Coventry (25.8%), York (21.9%), Lancaster (21.6%), Winchester (21%), and Birmingham (20%). Followed by City of Westminster and Kingston upon Hull, which have gender pay gaps of 19.6% and 18.2% respectively.

In comparison, pay gaps in cities in Scotland and Wales are lower. Scottish and Welsh cities with the widest gender pay gaps include Aberdeen (15.1%), Cardiff (15%), Swansea (9.4%), Glasgow (9.2%), Stirling (9.2%), and Newport (9%).

cities

Full city data:

City in the UK Average median gender pay gap (%)
Derby UA 31.3%
St Albans 27.4%
City of London 26.3%
Coventry 25.8%
York UA 21.9%
Lancaster 21.6%
Winchester 21.0%
Birmingham 20.0%
City of Westminster 19.6%
Kingston upon Hull UA 18.2%
Oxford 17.4%
Sheffield 17.4%
Lincoln 17.2%
Brighton and Hove UA 16.8%
Lichfield 16.2%
Note: Comparable gender pay gap data was not available for the following UK cities: Armagh, Bangor, Bath, Belfast, Chester, Derry, Durham, Ely, Hereford, Inverness, Lisburn, Newry, Perth, Ripon, Salisbury, St Asaph (Llanelwy), St Davids, Stirling, Truro, and Wells.

Parts of the UK with the widest gender pay gaps in favour of men

Average median gender pay gap (%) Average median annual salary Amount women are typically paid for every pound earned by a man
South East 18.90% £27,220 81p
East Midlands 16.80% £24,157 83p
South West 16.60% £23,776 83p
North East 16.30% £23,151 84p
Yorkshire and The Humber 16.20% £23,800 84p
London 16.20% £34,439 84p
East of England 16% £25,334 84p
West Midlands 15.90% £25,073 84p
UK average 15.4% £25,971 85p
North West 13.40% £24,456 87p
Wales 12.30% £23,550 88p
Scotland 11.60% £26,007 88p
Northern Ireland 5.70% £24,000 94p

Note: Geographical data shown above is for all employees (full-time and part-time) and by place of work (not by place of residence).

UK cities with the lowest gender pay gaps in favour of men include Preston (2.1%), Worcester (3.3%) and Leicester (5.2%).
Wage gap

Occupations with the widest gender pay gaps in favour of men

Looking at the data by pay disparity rather than employee numbers, there are many occupations – spanning numerous sectors – with far wider gender pay gaps than the UK average of 15.4%.

The top three occupations in the UK with the widest gender pay gaps in favour of men include production managers and directors in mining and energy (44.7%), assemblers – vehicles and metal goods (33.2%), and chemical and related process operatives (32.5%). Followed by financial managers and directors, and metal making and treating process operatives, with gender pay gaps in favour of men of 30.8% and 30.7% respectively.


Top 30 occupations / jobs, with the widest gender pay gaps in favour of men in 2021 (showing the average amount women are typically paid for every pound earned by a man):

Pie charts

At the other end of the pay gap scale, the ten occupations / job roles with the widest median gender pay gaps in favour of women include Midwives (-54.9%); Barristers and judges (-34.2%); Veterinary nurses (-33.1%); Mechanical engineers (-26.7%); Special needs education teaching professionals (-25.5%); Building and civil engineering technicians (-22.9%); Advertising and public relations directors (-19.1%); Vehicle valeters and cleaners (-19.1%); Counsellors (-18.7%); and Childminders and related occupations (-18.3%). Health professionals n.e.c. and Hairdressers and barbers are the only jobs with no gender pay gap for 2021.

The 13 occupations / job roles with the smallest median gender pay gaps in favour of men (under 1%) include:

  • Care escorts (0.1%)
  • Occupational therapists (0.3%)
  • Chartered surveyors (0.3%)
  • Cleaners and domestics (0.3%)
  • Pensions and insurance clerks and assistants (0.5%)
  • Environmental health professionals (0.6%)
  • Receptionists (0.6%)
  • Medical radiographers (0.7%)
  • Elementary administration occupations n.e.c. – including general assistant, office junior, office worker & reprographic technician (0.7%)
  • Elementary security occupations n.e.c. – including bailiff, commissionaire, court usher & door supervisor (0.7%)
  • Clergy (0.8%)
  • Protective service associate professionals n.e.c. – including customs officer, immigration officer, operations manager (security services) & security manager (0.8%)
  • Elementary cleaning occupations n.e.c. – including amenity block attendant, chimney sweep & toilet attendant (0.9%)

The ten occupations / job roles with the widest median gender pay gaps in favour of women include:

  • Midwives (-54.9%)
  • Barristers and judges (-34.2%)
  • Veterinary nurses (-33.1%)
  • Mechanical engineers (-26.7%)
  • Special needs education teaching professionals (-25.5%)
  • Building and civil engineering technicians (-22.9%)
  • Advertising and public relations directors (-19.1%)
  • Vehicle valeters and cleaners (-19.1%)
  • Counsellors (-18.7%)
  • Childminders and related occupations (-18.3%)

Gender pay gap for full-time employees by industry / sector

According to the Office for National Statistics, the median annual pay for full-time employees in the UK has decreased by 0.6% from £31,461 to £31,285 in 2021. For full-time employees, the UK’s average gender pay gap in favour of men is 7.9% in 2021, up from 7% in 2020.

  • The highest paying industry for full-time workers in 2021 is Financial and insurance activities, with an average salary of £43,508 a year. It’s gender pay gap in favour of men is 23.6%
  • Workers employed in Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply were paid an average of £43,430 a year. The gender pay gap in favour of men is 13.4%
  • Third on the list is Information and communication workers, who earned £41,552, on average, in 2021. The gender pay gap in favour of men is 19%
  • The lowest earners in 2021 were those working in the Accommodation and food service industry (the gender pay gap in favour of men is 1.6%). Their average salary of £20,015 was just two-thirds of the UK average

Average

Full gender pay gap by industry / sector data:

Average median gender pay gap (full-time employees, in %) Median annual pay (full-time employees)
Financial and insurance activities 23.6% £43,508
Information and communication 19% £41,552
Professional, scientific and technical activities 17.6% £37,246
Human health and social work activities 17% £28,181
Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply 13.4% £43,430
Education 13% £33,910
Manufacturing 11.7% £31,676
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 11.5% £26,363
Other service activities 11.3% £27,723
Arts, entertainment and recreation 11% £25,548
Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities 9.8% £32,069
Construction 9.6% £34,892
Real estate activities 9.3% £30,171
Average for all full-time employees 7.9% £31,285
Public administration and defence; compulsory social security 7% £33,447
Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles 5% £26,244
Administrative and support service activities 4.1% £27,068
Accommodation and food service activities 1.6% £20,015
Transportation and storage 0.4% £31,902
Mining and quarrying -1.3% £37,567

Notes:

All data sourced from the Office for National Statistics (ONS):

  • Gender pay gap in the UK: 2021 (provisional dataset released on 26 October 2021): https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/datasets/annualsurveyofhoursandearningsashegenderpaygaptables
  • Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings: 2021 provisional and 2020 revised results (released on 26 October 2021): https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/datasets/occupation4digitsoc2010ashetable14
    https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/datasets/industry2digitsicashetable4
    https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/datasets/placeofworkbylocalauthorityashetable7
  • NOMIS – Occupation (SOC2010) by sex, employment status and full/part-time (online dataset: July 2020-June 2021): https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/datasets/aps210/reports/employment-by-status-and-occupation?compare=K02000001