From education to employment

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

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 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.

Female-dominated job roles with the largest workforces (and their gender pay gaps) include:

  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 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 2022 report, including gender pay gap data by occupation, industry, and geographical location, is available to view in full at

All gender pay gap data was sourced from the Office for National Statistics and is based on the provisional datasets for all employees (including full-time and part-time but not self-employed workers) released last month. Workforce numbers, where available, were sourced from Nomis’ Annual Population Survey – January to December 2021 dataset.

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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