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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 08:00 GMT
Women's pay draws nearer to men's
Female executive on mobile phone
Women are still lagging men when it comes to earning power
The pay gap between men and women in the UK has narrowed this year, says a survey from Incomes Data Services.

Sex discrimination legislation, a national minimum wage, and more flexible working hours are all helping women catch up in the salary stakes.

But women in part-time work have not made up any ground on the opposite sex, while the best paid professions remain dominated by males.

The biggest divergence in wages is in the financial industry.

Managerial differences

According to the Incomes Data Services poll, men earned an average 18% more than women this year, 1% less than in 2002.

The 1% change is double the average annual rate of change over the past 20 years.

Men, however, are more likely to work longer hours and put in overtime.

When these extras are included, the difference between earnings rises to 25%, with men bringing home an average 525 a week and women 396.

Within the 257 full-time occupations examined in the survey, men earned more than women in 236.

The biggest gaps were in managerial positions, where salary structures tended to be less transparent, according to IDS.

Money world

In the finance sector, a woman makes an average 43% less than a man in a similar position.

As a retail and wholesale manager they can expect to earn 32% less, while as an office manager the pay packet is about a third lighter.

Top 3 male-dominated jobs
Marketing, sales managers
Sales, retail assistants
Production works, maintenance managers
The report found many women are taking lower paid jobs, for which they were often overqualified, because of responsibilities at home or outside of the workplace.

Top 3 female-dominated jobs
Sales, retail assistants
General office assistants, clerks
Care assistants, home carers
"If women were granted more opportunities to work in a wider variety of jobs on a part-time or other flexible work basis, we may begin to see a greater narrowing of the part-time gender pay gap," the report says.

More than two-fifths of the female workforce is employed on a part-time basis.

Better earners

Women also tend to dominate areas such as retail assistants, cleaners and "caring" roles, the survey said.

It is in low-paying jobs, such as retail cashiers, where women tend to be better earners than men.

Nearly two-thirds of all public sector employees are women.

According to IDS, "because one-in-ten women are either teachers or nurses compared to one-in-thirty men, substantial pay increases for these jobs would close the gender pay gap provided all other things were equal".

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