A century may stand between women executives and equal pay

Female managers may have to wait until the next century before they can claim pay parity with their male counterparts.

A study by the Chartered management Institute (CMI) has suggested that, although the pay structures of female executives are improving at a faster rate than for men, it looks as if equality won’t finally be struck until 2109.

At the moment, the average salary for a male executive is £42,441; for women it is £31,895.

Despite the fact that managerial pay for women has risen by 2.4 per cent in the year to February 2011 (compared with 2.1 per cent for men), the income gap between the genders has still grown.

The figures were compiled by the CMI from the data provided by over 34,000 executives working in the UK.

The research indicated that when the times get tough it is more often that women executives are told to go. In the period covered by the study, almost five times as many female directors as male directors lost their jobs, with companies releasing 0.6 per cent of male directors and 2.9 per cent of female directors.

There were, however, some more positive signs that attitudes and pay structures are catching up with social changes.

The latest survey is the first time that the CMI has found that some female executives are earning as much as men. The parity may only now be at the most junior level – female junior managers at £21,969 and now being paid slightly more than males at £21,367 – but it may be heralding a progressive if slow re-alignment of inequities in the pay system.

Petra Wilton, the CMI’s director of policy and research, said: “Diversity shouldn’t be seen as something that has to be accommodated, but something that must be celebrated. Imposing mandatory quotas and forcing organisations to reveal salaries is not the solution.

“We need the government to scrutinise organisational pay, demand more transparency from companies on pay bandings and publicly expose organisations found guilty of fuelling the gender pay gap.”