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Two-thirds of female-dominated professions have a gender pay gap

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Two-thirds of female-dominated professions have a gender pay gap

Most popular occupations in the UK – including those with a high proportion of women in the workforce – have a pay gap that favours men, according to new analysis.

HR systems provider Ciphr reviewed the latest gender pay gap estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to identify which female-dominated occupations (with workforces of 50,000 or more) have the widest and narrowest gender pay gaps in 2022.

Ciphr’s gender pay gap study found that around two-thirds (65%) of professions with a predominantly female workforce (where over 60% of workers are women) have gender pay gaps in favour of men – which means men are paid more per hour on average. Only 2% have no reported pay gaps, and a third have gender pay gaps in favour of women.

Popular career choices – those with the largest numbers of workers – appear the most likely to have pay disparities. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of the female-dominated occupations employing over 100,000 people in the UK have a gender pay gap in favour of men. For female-dominated occupations with workforces of over 330,000, over 8 in 10 (82%) have gender pay gaps in favour of men.

Some of the occupations with the largest gender pay gaps (and workforces over 100,000) include functional managers and directors (including town clerks, planning managers, research directors and trade union managers) and legal associate professionals (including legal assistants, litigators, data protection officers, and land registrars). The average gender pay gaps for these occupational groups are 21.3% and 16.8% respectively.

There’s also around a 12% gender pay gap for office managers and local government administrative occupations (12.5% and 12.1% respectively).

The fourth-largest profession in the UK, with over half a million full- and part-time employees, is other administrative occupations – which includes numerous administrative and clerical roles. While nearly three-quarters (74%) of these workers are women, it has an 8.9% gender pay gap in favour of men.

Around two-thirds of the UK’s human resource managers and directors, bookkeepers, payroll managers and wages clerks, and records clerks and assistants, are women, yet all these job roles have a gender pay gap of nearly 7% in favour of men (6.5%, 6.9%, and 6.5% respectively).

An even greater proportion of receptionists and teaching assistants in the UK are women (89-90%), yet both these careers have a gender pay gap of 5.1% in favour of men.

Some of the other female-dominated occupations with pay gaps over 5% (and workforces of less than 100,000) include PR professionals, cleaning and housekeeping managers and supervisors, bank and post office clerks, specialist nurses, and project support officers.

Nearly six million workers – around four million of which are women – are employed in female-dominated careers with a gender pay gap of 1% or higher in favour of men.

The top 10 female-dominated job roles with the largest workforces (and their gender pay gaps):

  1. Other nursing professionals – including nurses: 814,000 employees (0.2% gender pay gap)
  2. Sales and retail assistants: 737,400 employees (2.8%)
  3. Care workers and home carers: 731,100 employees (-1.0%)
  4. Other administrative occupations – including admin and clerical assistants: 576,500 employees (8.9%)
  5. Kitchen and catering assistants: 443,000 employees (-1.1%)
  6. Nursing auxiliaries and assistants: 438,600 employees (1.4%)
  7. Bookkeepers, payroll managers and wages clerks: 401,100 employees (6.5%)
  8. Primary education teaching professionals: 368,500 employees (0.6%)
  9. Teaching assistants: 349,100 employees (5.1%)
  10. Secondary education teaching professionals: 347,900 (2.3%)

It’s a similar picture for entire occupational groups (the UK’s workforce is split into 26 sub-major groups by the ONS). Take full-time health professionals, for example. Although its workforce is predominantly female (around seven women to three men), it has the second-widest pay gap at 14%.

Workers in leisure, travel, and related personal service occupations – which has a more balanced workforce split of 57% women and 43% men – also have to contend with a significant 11% pay gap (the fifth biggest in the UK).

Six out of seven female-dominated occupational groups – including health and social care associate professionals, administrative occupations, teaching and other educational professionals, and caring personal service occupations – have pay gaps of over 2% in favour of men. Secretarial and related occupations is the only exception at -6.6%.

Occupational groups with the largest proportion of women in the workforce, ranked by widest gender pay gaps in 2022:

It is worth noting, of course, that around 2.4 million employees in the UK – 600,000 of which are men – work in female-dominated occupations with a negative gender pay gap of -1% or more (roles which pay women more on average). Some examples include care workers, waiting staff, financial administrative occupations, community nurses, midwives, PAs, medical secretaries, and special needs education teaching professionals.

Some of the female-dominated occupations that have the narrowest pay gaps (between 0.9% and -0.9%) include primary school teachers, nurses, welfare and housing associate professionals, and HR officers. While retail cashiers and checkout operators are the only female-dominated jobs (women make up around 69% of the workforce) with no reported gender pay gap for 2022.


Claire Williams, chief people officer at Ciphr, says: “The latest gender pay gap reports are disappointing, to say the least, especially given the ever-increasing spotlight on inclusive policies and initiatives and pressure for employers to close the gap.

“Far more needs to be done, and quickly, to hold employers accountable. More robust gender pay gap reporting, an overhaul of the childcare support available to working parents, making flexible working the norm, and an introduction of measures to minimise the disproportionate impact of the cost-of-living crisis on women in particular. And, of course, better representation of women and ethnic minorities at all levels, in all roles, is vital to driving change in an organisation. It’s also the best way of attracting and retaining the best employees.”

Ciphr’s gender pay gap statistics report, including gender pay gap data by occupation, industry, and geographical location, is available to view in full at [link edited to updated 2023 stats].

Ciphr is a specialist provider of cloud-based HR, payroll, recruitment and learning software. More than 600 organisations use Ciphr’s integrated HR and people management solutions to help manage, retain and engage staff more effectively – while reducing the admin burden on busy HR teams.

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Media enquiries:
Emma-Louise Jones, digital PR manager at Ciphr
t: 01628 244206

David Richter, director of marketing at Ciphr
Twitter: @ciphrhrsoftware


All median gender pay gap data (included in this press releases) was sourced from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and is based on the provisional datasets for all employees (including full-time and part-time but not self-employed workers) released on 26 October 2022. Occupational roles are listed as per the ONS’ four-digit Standard Occupational Classification (SOC2020) codes. Broad occupational categories, with one-, two- or three-digit SOC codes, were not included.

Workforce numbers, where available, were sourced from Nomis’ Annual Population Survey – January to December 2021 dataset. 

Ciphr is a specialist provider of SaaS HR, payroll, recruitment and learning software through its HCM platform, Ciphr Connect. Ciphr’s cloud-based solutions help busy HR teams to streamline their processes across the entire employee lifecycle and spend more time working strategically.

Ciphr Connect enables seamless integration, not only across Ciphr's own solutions but also with an ecosystem of specialist, third-party tools using its modern API technology.

Over 200 employees work across Ciphr Group, which is headquartered in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and includes Ciphr, Digits LMS and Payroll Business Solutions (PBS).

Ciphr spokespeople are available to provide expert media comment on a broad range of topics, including HR strategy, people management, employee experience and wellbeing, learning and development, the future of work, tech trends, business and leadership, marketing, and more.


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