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Written by Rolf BaxRolf Bax

57 jobs dominated by women with the biggest gender pay gap

13 min read
57 jobs dominated by women with the biggest gender pay gap
Artwork by:Lizabeth Zaft
Data from the House of Commons Library shows that on average women earn 17,3% less than men as of April 2019. We analyzed data from the ONS to find jobs that are dominated by women, but pay men more.

Imagine if, on 28th October, every woman in the UK started working for free – and continued to work for free until the end of the year. Now imagine that this isn’t a charitable gesture: it’s the reality of a broken system.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that women earn, on average, 17.2% less than men. Only it’s not a glitch. It is centuries of structural inequality and institutional sexism. At the present rate of reduction, women won’t receive equal pay for another 60 years.

The gender pay gap is so deeply ingrained into our culture that in two-thirds of jobs dominated by women, men have a higher rate of pay for doing the same work. This includes professions such as dentists, librarians, and public health managers.

We used ONS figures for 2019 to identify the 57 female dominated jobs for which men are paid more. Then we found the pay gap for each of these professions. Next, we illustrated these disparities with a scatter graph and a series of charts so you can see just how each occupation and industry rates for gender pay bias. Ready to feel short-changed?

Top 10 jobs dominated by women with the biggest gender pay gap

First, here’s a look at the worst offenders: female dominated jobs – occupations where more than half the employees are women – but where men earn more. As you can see, inequality affects society’s lowest earners the most. Each of the average female salaries in the top 10 qualify for the lowest, ‘Basic Rate’ of income tax, and eight of them are below the national average income of £24,897.

  Occupation % of women in these jobs Women salary Men salary Difference in GBP Gender pay gap (%)
1 Dental practitioners 55.6% £40,834.00 £67,285.00 £26,451.00 39.3%
2 Cleaners and domestics 76.8% £7,628.00 £11,764.00 £4,136.00 35.2%
3 Financial accounts managers 58.6% £29,606.00 £45,120.00 £15,514.00 34.4%
4 Sales and retail assistants 63.6% £9,959.00 £14,768.00 £4,809.00 32.6%
5 Telephonists 75.0% £13,032.00 £19,296.00 £6,264.00 32.5%
6 Library clerks and assistants 78.3% £12,735.00 £18,528.00 £5,793.00 31.3%
7 Librarians 76.9% £22,308.00 £32,145.00 £9,837.00 30.6%
8 Cleaning and housekeeping managers and supervisors 73.5% £14,434.00 £20,624.00 £6,190.00 30.0%
9 Housekeepers and related occupations 83.3% £12,532.00 £17,229.00 £4,697.00 27.3%
10 Receptionists 91.2% £13,247.00 £17,696.00 £4,449.00 25.1%
Statistical insight

Do men and women working the same job get paid differently?

While this research focuses on women dominated jobs, the gender pay gap (difference in salary between men and women) exists in nearly all occupations. 

Here's how much women are paid compared to men:

In 2018, white women earned 79 cents for every dollar made they their male counterparts. That figure was even lower for many women of color: 62 cents for Black women and just 54 cents for Hispanic or Latino women, according to data from the Center for American Progress.

How much does a woman make to a man's pound?

In the UK, a woman made approximately 83p for every pound earned by a man in 2019, according to the House of Commons Library.

Do female construction workers earn the same wages as males?

Female construction workers earn on average 17 percent less than their male counterparts, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this gap may seem sizable, it's actually smaller than in many other industries where women only earn 79 percent for each dollar a man makes.


The gender pay gap, illustrated

To show just how wide the pay gap looks in each industry, we created a series of charts showing the 57 female dominated careers where women are paid less. Health and social care is the sector with the highest number of unevenly paid trades. Twelve predominantly female professions – from dentist to nurse to senior care worker – have such a gap. 

But the biggest scandal is in education. More than three-quarters of nursery and primary teachers, library workers, and special needs professionals are women, yet they are all subject to a considerable pay gap. These female dominated careers include the custodians of society’s future, and the figures whom our youngest see the most. Female librarians and senior school teachers can expect to earn nearly £10,000 less than men: neither a fair reward for the most important of jobs nor a good example to set young learners.

57 jobs dominated by women with the biggest gender pay gap
The 57 jobs dominated by women with the biggest gender pay gap.

Does the number of women in an industry affect the pay bias?

The scatter graph below illustrates the pay gap of the 57 female dominated careers against the proportion of women in each profession. You can hover or tap on each dot to reveal the title, percentage of female workers, and pay discrepancy of each job. 

The graph reflects our broader findings: the proportion of women in a profession doesn’t correlate with the gap in earnings. In other words, women in both the most- and least-male-dominated industries are at risk of being short-changed to the same extent. 

The only exception is at the extreme end. There are ten occupations where women have 80% of the jobs, and most of these tend to have a lower – yet still unacceptable – pay gap of 1-5%.

The gender pay gap is one of the most significant blots on modern society, not least because full reform is so long overdue. And unequal pay for women is just one strand to be considered at the intersection of equal rights and worker rights in general. People of color, disabled workers, and the working class are all victims of a pay gap, despite the fact that all these groups have to fight harder to get jobs in the first place. Must we wait another 60 years for governments and employers to fix a broken system? 

Part time jobs in the United States are dominated by women

Another consideration in the pay gap conversation is the disparity in hourly pay between full-time and part-time workers. In the U.S. and many developed countries, women make up nearly two thirds of part-time workers. In fact, 20 percent of all women in the workforce are part-time workers, compared to only 11 percent for men, according to the Economic Policy Institute

While many women choose these roles in order to care for children or family members in their free time, they face a steep "hourly wage penalty" meaning they are paid almost 30 percent less for their hourly work than those who work full-time. Unfortunately, the problem isn't getting better. In 2005, the hourly wage penalty was 10 percent compared to 16 percent today.

Expert tip

One of the most promising solutions to close the gender pay gap begins with workers themselves. Pay transparency is promoted by the EU and others as a way to hold companies accountable for discrepancies in salary between men and women. By sharing information about your wages (even anonymously) you can help others to negotiate for better salaries, oftentimes for the same position. Wage transparency is just as important for men as women.

Methodology and sources 

To create these visualizations, we started by determining a list of female dominated careers. We looked at the occupations list from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (2019), and reduced it to individual occupations, removing groups of occupations and occupational categories from the data. We then removed occupations that employment split by gender wasn't available. Next, we filtered out occupations, where less than 50% of employees were women. Finally, we excluded occupations without a pay gap (see definition below). 

Next, we determined the pay gap. The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings reports the gender pay gap based on the median rate of hourly pay, excluding overtime, and it's calculated as a percentage difference between men's and women's median hourly pay. We only included occupations that had a pay gap based on this official calculation. For those occupations, we have also calculated the pay gap based on men's and women's median annual pay to reflect the difference in yearly earnings. Cases where a pay gap only exists in the hourly rate and not annual pay are likely down to the varying number of hours worked by men and women in a given occupation each year.

Source: ONS (2020). Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. ons.gov.uk

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