Data Insight: The gender progression and pay gap for teachers in Wales

This Data Insight examined differences between female and male teaching staff at different career stages using the School Workforce Annual Census (SWAC). The analysis found that female teachers earned more than male teachers at classroom teacher level. However, this trend reversed for teachers in senior leadership, where male teachers earned, on average, 6% more after controlling for other measured characteristics. In addition, female teachers were significantly less likely to hold senior management roles.

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Despite pay legislation, increased participation of women in education and training, and better performance of female students in all subjects in both secondary and university education, the gender pay gap (GPG) persists.

Further, career progression often plateaus for women in their late 20s and women are under-represented in senior roles in Wales, as in the rest of the UK, in both the private and public sectors. Whilst the teacher labour market in Wales has recently been examined in a report by the Nuffield Foundation, there is a relative lack of evidence on gender differences in the pay and progression of teachers in Wales compared to what is available for England.

Given the differences in pay and management structures that exist in Wales, this analysis aimed to address that evidence gap, examining the gender gaps in both pay and career progression, once personal and school characteristics had been controlled for.

What we did

We used School Workforce Annual Census (SWAC) data from 2019 and 2020 which covers all maintained schools in Wales. Teaching roles were divided into qualified classroom teachers and qualified teachers holding senior management positions. These groups were created to examine gaps in pay and representation by sex between types of roles within schools. 

What we found

There are some key takeaways:

  • Female teachers had lower take home pay in teaching from the beginning of their careers and pay does not catch up to that
    of male teachers
  • Male teachers were more than twice as likely as female teachers to be in a senior leadership position when controlling for other factors.

Why it matters

Women are under-represented in leadership positions and are paid significantly less than men in senior leadership roles, after controlling for contracted hours and time since qualifying as a teacher as well as other factors such as school sector.

These findings show that there are still barriers to equal pay and progression for women, even in sectors with clearly defined pay scales and a predominantly female workforce (77% of all qualified teaching staff in Wales). This raises the obvious issue of pay and pension inequality for women, but also issues of representation. We already know that there is a lack of ethnic minority representation in schools, especially at senior leadership level. However, there are also issues with low representation of male teachers in classroom roles, particularly at primary school level, and similarly with women in senior leadership positions.

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