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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.

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. 

Gender Pay Gap data

The following data relates to a March 2022 snapshot for publication in 2023.

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 7.3%, which remains much better than the pay gap in the UK workforce and has improved since the 2020 data. Our Median Gender Pay Gap of 6% has improved significantly in the last three years. We are now using the UK public sector benchmark rather than the All Sector benchmark, but the University is below both measures.

Chart 1. Gender Pay Gap trends

Bar chart showing mean and median gender pay gap percentages between 2017 and 2022.  Lines show the UK public sector benchmark.  In the latest year the University is significantly better than both the mean and median benchmark.

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*)

ONS Benchmark version





































*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.

Benchmarked against the latest national data available for the sector, our mean and median pay compare favourably with all benchmark groups. 

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 £1-10 and £11-20 pay bands, but there are substantially more women in those two pay bands.

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.


The Government requires organisations to specify the pay gap in any bonus pay, however our very low number of bonuses means that the statutory calculation is not statistically meaningful.

The University paid more payments that count for the bonus pay gap in the latest period. 4.9% of men and 4.2% of women received a bonus (recognition payment) in the 12 months to 31 March 2022. 

  • The Mean Bonus Gender Pay Gap is 35.4% (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 70% (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 four equal parts (quartiles) then publish what proportion of each quartile is male or female.

  • Our upper (fourth) quartile is nearly 50% female. It 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.

Since last year the proportion of women in the top two 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 charts 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 60.2% women (398 individuals), lower middle is 58.6% women (388), upper middle is 59.4% women (393), and the highest is 49.2% women (325).