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Lucie Mitchell

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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‘Mid-life pay crisis’ hits female bosses as pay gap widens


Female managers are still being paid 35% less than their male counterparts, meaning they would have to work 14 years longer to equal men’s total career earnings, new research has found.

The report, by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and XpertHR, revealed that female executives over the age of 40 are being hit hardest by the widening gender pay gap, with the average gap between men and women aged 46 to 60 years-old standing at £16,680 a year.

For men and women of all ages, the gap stands at just over £9,000 a year, meaning that women are earning only three-quarters as much as their male colleagues, representing a 23% gender pay gap.

This disparity in pay means women would have to work 14 years more than men to earn the same over their career, which, based on a pension age of 65, would mean working until they are nearly 80 years-old.

The report, which is based on an analysis of over 68,000 professional UK workers, also found a ‘bonus pay gap’ between male and female directors, with the average bonus for a female director standing at £41,956, compared to £53,010 for men. In addition, basic salaries for male directors have increased by 2.7%, whereas women have seen a 1.9% rise.

Ann Francke, CMI chief executive said that lower levels of pay for female managers can’t be “justified”, yet this data shows women are being hit by a “mid-life pay crisis”. 

“Women and men should be paid on the basis of their performance in their particular roles, but this is clearly not yet the case for far too many. It’s not right that women would have to work until almost 80 for the same pay rewards as men.

“We have to stamp out cultures that excuse this as the result of time out for motherhood and tackle gender bias in pay policies that put too much emphasis on time served.”

The pay gap is slightly narrower for younger women, standing at 6% for those between the ages of 20 to 25, and 8% between 26 and 35, before rising significantly for older women, the data found.

XpertHR’s head of salary surveys Mark Crail said that this suggests that pay for women begins to fall behind at the age when they are most likely to be starting a family.

“It appears that employers often give up on women in mid-career and are missing out on a huge pool of untapped knowledge, experience and talent.”

Gloria De Piero, shadow minister for women and equalities, added: "These figures reveal a depressing picture for women who want to get ahead in their careers. We should be closing the pay gap for women at all stages of their working lives but instead we see pay inequality worsening for women managers as they progress and for working women across the country.”

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Lucie Mitchell

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Lucie Mitchell