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Gender pay gap

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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 (staff login required) and we publish annual Equality, Diversity and Social Responsibility reports (staff login required) which describe the wide range of activities and initiatives that the University is involved with every year to celebrate and promote diversity. 

A gender pay gap is a difference between the average (mean) pay of all men and women 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.

The statutory pay gap calculation uses the hourly rate of pay for each person, and includes core staff, hourly paid academic tutors/associate lecturers, and casual workers. For staff with variable hours it is based on the 12 months to the census date at the end of March. For staff with a regular salary it is based on just the March pay.

Gender Pay Gap data

The following data relates to a March 2023 snapshot for publication in 2024.

Benchmarked against the latest national data available for the sector our mean and median pay compare favourably with all benchmark groups. The mean pay gap uses the average pay of all staff in a group. The median pay gap uses the pay of the middle person in a group, if that group is sorted in order of hourly pay rate.

Chart 1. Gender Pay Gap trends

Bar chart showing mean and median gender pay gap percentages between 2017 and 2023. Lines show the UK public sector benchmark. In the latest year the University is significantly better than both the mean and median benchmark. The chart illustrates the figures in the table below.

The gender pay gap calculation excludes staff who have declared as non-binary or gender queer.

Women are well-represented at all levels including our most senior academic, professional and leadership roles, and this is reflected in our Mean Gender Pay Gap of 8.5%, which remains much better than the pay gap in the UK workforce. The median pay gap is the Government’s preferred measure. Our Median Gender Pay Gap of 4.4% has improved significantly in the last three years.   

Table 1. Recent Gender Pay Gap trends


Median Gender Pay Gap (University of Sunderland)

Mean Gender Pay Gap (University of Sunderland)

Median Public Sector (ONS*)

Mean Public Sector (ONS*)




































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

^Years are census dates. Pay Gaps are published the following year.

+ A one-off £500 payment for cost of living was broadly paid to all employees in July 2022. This was not in recognition of any work provided and did not scale with earnings. This has been excluded from the calculation for consistency as it affects all staff, but due to the nature of the calculation, only the variable hours rates of pay would have included it.

Our Median Gender Pay Gap partly reflects the fact that there are some roles at the lower end of our pay structure, such as casual, intern, domestic and entry-level administrative roles which tend to be predominantly filled by women. Chart 3 shows the number of men and women in hourly pay bands, demonstrating that there are substantially more women in the £1-£10 and £11-20 bands. 

Chart 2. Distribution of male and female staff by hourly rate in £10 bands

Line chart showing number of staff on the vertical axis and £10 pay bands on the horizontal axis. The majority of staff on both the men’s and women’s lines are in the £11-20 pay band, but there are substantially more women than men in this pay band.

Since our previous gender pay gap the University has become a Real Living Wage employer, which has reduced the number of staff in the £1-10 per hour band and increased the number in the £11-20 per hour band. More women than men benefitted from this increase.

The £1-10 pay band is now almost entirely casual workers (including External Examiners) and Graduate Interns. The £11-20 band encompasses entry level Lecturers and Academic Tutors, admin/ professional/manual/technical roles and casual workers.

Chart 3. Staff movement by pay band between March 2022 and March 2023

Bar chart showing the change in staff numbers on the vertical axis and £10 pay bands on the horizontal axis. The number of both men and women has reduced significantly in the £1-£10 band and increased in the £11-20 pay band. The change is greater for women.


The Government requires organisations to specify the pay gap in any bonus pay.

Our very low number of bonuses means that the statutory calculation is not statistically meaningful.

The University paid very few payments that count for the bonus pay gap in the latest period. Often these were one-off recognition payments. 1.1% of men (14 staff) and 0.7% of women (13 staff) received a bonus (recognition payment) in the 12 months to 31st March 2023.

  • The Mean Bonus Gender Pay Gap is 16.1% (in favour of men). This is the difference between the average bonus paid to the men and women who received a bonus.
  • The Median Bonus Gender Pay Gap is 50% (in favour of men). This compares the actual bonus paid to the middle person in the list of men and the list of women who received a bonus. 


Lastly, the Government requires organisations to rank all staff according to pay and split them into 4 equal groups (quartiles) then publish what proportion of each quartile is men or women.

  • Our upper (fourth) quartile is the highest paid quarter of our workforce. This is evenly split by gender (50.7% women). It includes Senior Managers, Professors and Associate Professors, senior academics and non-academic professionals.
  • Our upper middle (third) quartile is more than half women and includes many professional support grades, Lecturers and Senior Lecturers, Academic Tutors and Casual Workers.
  • The lower two quartiles have a majority of women, which is a significant influence on our overall pay gap.

Since last year the proportion of women in the highest paid quartiles has risen slightly, and the proportion of men in the lower middle quartile has risen slightly.  The data for quartiles is shown in the chart below:

Chart 4. Quartiles by gender
A bar chart with four percentage bars representing pay quartiles showing the proportion of men and women in each quartile. The lowest quartile is 61.7% women (466 individuals), lower middle is 61.6% women (466), upper middle is 59.4% women (449), and the highest is 50.7% women (383).