To Top

A Feminist Institution with a 10% Gender Pay Gap?

Editor, Abbie Cheeseman, investigates the extent of gender pay gaps within Royal Holloway, University of London.

Royal Holloway, University of London – one of the country’s most iconic flagship feminist institutions for Higher Education has been found to have a 10.01% gender pay gap for professors.

Times Higher Education (THE) recently released a list of the ten highest gender pay gaps for full-time professors in the UK and placed Royal Holloway at number seven, with an average of £7,735 difference in wages between men and women. Further investigation into their data shows that this is not the highest gender pay gap within the college. The category of ‘all academics’ has a gender pay gap of 10.48%, all non-academic staff 10.92% and the most significant gap is in professional, technical and clerical at 19.33%.

The UK average gender pay gap for full time professors in Higher Education institutions is 5.70%, highlighting the fact that Royal Holloway’s is almost double the national average.
THE, who extrapolated the pay rates used for this article from data provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, warned that: “as with all pay data, caveats have to be borne in mind. For instance, the mix of roles in a large category such as “all academics” can affect the data, and large salaries in a category with smaller numbers can skew the average.”
Further investigation into THE’s data by Orbital Magazine found that the pay gap for full time professors at Royal Holloway is the third worst in the 18 institutions that make up the University of London.

Whilst nation-wide efforts to close the gender pay gaps within Higher Education have been underway for a number of years, Royal Holloway’s figures seem to be taking a step in the wrong direction. In 2010, Drama & Theatre Studies Professor, Liz Schafer took the college to an employment tribunal over equal pay. Following the legal proceedings, Royal Holloway introduced a banding system which provides a more transparent pay scale in a hope to close the ‘scandalous’ gap.

The college’s 2012 Equal Pay Review highlighted an 8.2% gender pay gap for full-time professors as well as other significant pay gaps in manual and ancillary staff groups. This, alongside the previous tribunal case triggered the college to develop a 2014-17 Equality Diversity Scheme. This entailed an independent 2014 Equal Pay Audit which highlighted an 8.9% pay gap for professorial roles and the recently revealed 2015/16 data at 10.01% illustrates how year upon year the extent of the gender pay gap for full time professors at Royal Holloway is growing.
Whilst the 2014 pay review audit did not elude to any grave concerns for the college with regard to pay equality, they do show that there are significantly fewer women in senior positions. However, there is no hiding from the fact that since 2012 the pay gap for full-time professors is getting worse year after year.
Gender pay gaps should not be seen as a direct case of sexism, there are many variables that can cause them and often, as was the case in Royal Holloway’s 2014 pay audit, if you look at the median pay rate, the gap decreases significantly. Gaps can also be accounted for by low turnover of staff in professorial roles. Furthermore, efforts to decrease the gap – such as allowing more opportunities for entry level professorial roles for women, have in the short term increased the gap as they have a lower rate of pay than more established professors.

A spokesperson from the college commented:

“Royal Holloway was among the first colleges in the UK to give women access to higher education, and we continue to strive to combat the under-representation of women in certain fields. For example, Royal Holloway has more female than male students studying science, contrary to the sector. However, there is still work to be done to close the gap in females attaining the highest band of professorship.

Royal Holloway’s 2014 independent Equal Pay Audit report showed that male and female academics on the same professional grades did not experience disparity. However, there were fewer women in senior positions. Work continues to increase the number of senior female academics and therefore close the average pay gap. We have spent considerable time over the last few years working with campus unions to improve the mechanisms for promotion and to make them more fair and transparent.

In 2016 the THE awarded Royal Holloway the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Leadership Development’ award for our Enabling Women Academics through the Promotion Process programme, designed to close the gender gap in the number of male versus female professors. We are delighted that 65 percent of participants in this programme have gone on to secure promotions.

We’ve also launched a Mentoring and Coaching Scheme which supports staff development and progression for women, and other traditionally under-represented groups.

Despite these programmes we know there is still work to be done. We will continue to work with our staff to ensure they are supported to succeed, regardless of gender and will work with the sector, taking steps as a whole to ensure the gender pay gap is closed.”


You must be logged in to post a comment Login

More in News

The Orbital is a monthly magazine produced by students at Royal Holloway University of London.

Complaints about any content on this site should, in the first instance be addressed to

Copyright © 2016 The Orbital Magazine, Royal Holloway University of London