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Gender pay gap

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A gender pay gap is a difference between the average (mean) pay of all male and female workers across all jobs in the organisation. A gender pay gap does not mean that men and women are paid different rates for the same work (which is illegal). It means that, on average, there may be more women in lower-paid jobs and more men in higher-paid jobs.

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The University supports the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. We were one of the first universities to introduce an Equal Pay Policy and we publish annual Equality, Diversity and Social Responsibility reports which describe the wide range of activities and initiatives that the University is involved with every year to celebrate and promote diversity.

We have conducted annual Equal Pay Audits since 2003 and have been cited by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. These audits complement our aims of fairly rewarding staff, increasing efficiency and enhancing our reputation.

In 2017, the Government introduced a new duty for organisations to report their Gender Pay Gap. They use a standard approach which is slightly different from the one we have used previously (a wider pool of staff that includes casual workers and fee and expenses claimants, and different pay elements). This means that our Gender Pay Gap has been calculated differently since 2017, but remains comparable to our data from previous years.

View Government guidance and definitions or visit the Government's website for Gender Pay Gap Data.


Gender Pay Gap

The following data relates to a March 2019 snapshot for publication in 2020.

Women are well-represented at all levels of our grading structure, including our most senior academic, professional and leadership roles, and this is reflected in our Mean Gender Pay Gap of 13.5%, which remains much better than the pay gap in the UK workforce. This pay gap is the difference between the average pay of all men, and the average pay of all women in the organisation.

Chart 1: Gender Pay Gap trends

Bar chart showing gender pay gap percentages between 2003 and 2019.

Table 1. Gender Pay Gap trends

Year Mean Gender Pay Gap (University of Sunderland) Median Gender Pay Gap (University of Sunderland) Mean UK Workforce (ONS*) Median UK Workforce (ONS*)
2003 30.9% Not reported 24.2% 25.1%
2004 29.4% Not reported 22.5% 24.7%
2005 26.2% Not reported 21.4% 22.6%
2006 24.9% Not reported 21.4% 22.2%
2007 23.6% Not reported 20.7% 21.9%
2008 24.2% Not reported 21.3% 22.5%
2009 22.9% Not reported 20.1% 22.0%
2010 22.3% Not reported 19.3% 19.8%
2011 21.6% Not reported 19.6% 20.2%
2012 20.7% Not reported 18.6% 19.6%
2013 16.5% Not reported 19.1% 19.8%
2014 14.8% Not reported 17.7% 19.2%
2015 13.0% Not reported 17.7% 19.3%
2016 Not reported Not reported 17.5% 18.2%
2017 12.0% 20.9% 17.2% 18.4%
2018   14.6% 15.4% 17.1% 17.9%
2019 15.5% 21.2% 16.2% 17.3%

*Office of National Statistics: Annual survey of hours and earnings (ASHE) gender pay gap tables.

The Median pay gap works by standing all men and all women in two imaginary lines in order of pay and then comparing the rate of pay of the middle man and woman in each line. Our Median Gender Pay Gap of 15.4% reflects the fact that, in addition to the positive representation of women across our pay structure, there are some part-time roles at the lower end of our pay structure which tend to be predominantly filled by women (see Bonuses and Quartiles below; for example we have many Domestic Support Assistants who are mostly women.)

View our most recent Equality, Diversity and Social Responsibility annual reports.

Visit the Government's website for Gender Pay Gap data.

Chart 2. Distribution of hourly rates by gender

Histogram showing hourly rate of pay vs number of staff for men and women.  Both men and women’s plots are a similar shape, with a gradual increase in rate of pay along the line of lower paid staff, and a sharp increase in the rate of pay for the highest paid staff.  However the plot for women is longer and rises more slowly, so that the median women has a lower rate of pay than the median man.

A line graph showing the hourly rate of pay against the number of staff for male and female staff
Our Median Gender Pay Gap of 21.2% partly reflects the fact that there are some roles at the lower end of our pay structure tend to be predominantly filled by women. Chart 3 shows types of role sorted from highest to lowest average hourly rate. The higher paid roles have a roughly equal proportion of men and women, while the lowest paid roles are dominated by women.

Chart 3: Staff numbers by type of role in the 2019 pay gap analysis
Horizontal bar chart showing the proportion of men and women in broadly grouped types of role, with the highest paid roles at the top. The lowest paid roles are overwhelmingly dominated by women, with a more equal distribution of men and women in the higher paid roles. The median woman falls in the Other Support £15 to £20 per hour grouping, the median man in the next highest grouping which is Academic Tutors.
Bar chart showing staff roles split by gender

Chart 4: Staff numbers in each pay gap analysis
Annual columns for 2017, 2018 and 2019 split by the number of men and women, showing that the total population used in the pay gap analysis was substantially lower in 2018 compared to the other two years, with the reduction mainly being in the number of women.

Bar chart showing staff numbers by gender between 2017 and 2019. In all years there are more women than men.


The Government requires organisations to rank all staff according to pay and split them into four equal parts (quartiles) then publish what proportion of each quartile is male or female.

  • Our upper (fourth) quartile is nearly 50% female and includes Senior Managers, Professors and Associate Professors, senior academics and non-academic professionals.
  • Our upper middle (third) quartile is more than 50% female and includes many professional support grades, Lecturers and Senior Lecturers, Academic Tutors and Casual Workers.
  • The higher proportion of women in the lower quartiles is a significant influence on our overall pay gap.

The data for quartiles is shown in the chart below:

Chart 5: Quartiles by gender

Four percentage bars representing pay quartiles showing the proportion of men and women in each quartile.  The lowest quartile is 69% women, lower middle is 61% women, upper middle is 56% women, and the highest is 47% women.

bar chart showing staff numbers by gender between the quartiles of role


The Government requires organisations to specify the pay gap in any bonus pay including Long Service Awards. Only 0.9% of males (seven individuals) and 0.3% of females (three individuals) received a bonus in the 12 months to 31 March 2019. These very low numbers mean that the statutory calculation is not statistically meaningful.

  • The Mean Bonus Gender Pay Gap is 83.0%. This is the difference between the average bonus paid to the seven males and three females who received a bonus.
  • The Median Bonus Gender Pay Gap is 80%. This compares the actual bonus paid to the middle person in the list of seven males and three females who received a bonus.
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