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The gender pay expectation gap has 'doubled' in two years

Abigail Fenton
·2-min read
Women are largely losing confidence in their earning potential, while men expect to earn more. Photo: Joe Giddens/PAModels of a man and woman stand on a pile of coins and bank notes. (Joe Giddens/PA Archive/PA Images)
Women are largely losing confidence in their earning potential, while men expect to earn more. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA

The gender pay gap could be set to worsen following the outbreak of COVID-19, with the difference in what men and women expect to earn having doubled since 2018, according to a survey of 23,000 workers by employer branding specialist Universum.

Women are largely losing confidence in their earning potential, while men expect to earn more. In 2020, men expect to earn a quarter more than women – up from 13% more in 2018.

Interestingly, men’s salary expectations have increased since the outbreak of COVID-19 – growing from £40,500 ($53,000) in 2019 to £41,600 in 2020. Meanwhile, women’s expectations have dropped from £31,400 to £31,000.

READ MORE: Women take eight months longer to save for first home

Alongside widening the salary expectation gap between men and women, the insecurity about jobs caused by the pandemic appears to be leading workers to broaden their job search before deciding where they ultimately would like to work, according to Universum’s annual Most Attractive Employers report.

In 2019, the average UK professional considered an average of 21 employers. However, in less than a year, this number has increased to an average of 26 – suggesting instability caused by the coronavirus pandemic could be making it more difficult to choose a long term employer.

“The impact of Covid-19 on earning confidence and the gender pay gap could be set to get worse as we enter another round of tight restrictions from government. It’s never been more important for employers create a culture that recognises life outside work and embraces flexibility,” said Universum’s UK director Steve Ward.

READ MORE: Gender pay gap keeps UK in bottom half of women in work ranking

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies also shows that mothers are more likely than fathers to have left paid work when the UK went into full lockdown on 23 March – potentially accounting for much of this discrepancy.

Multiple other studies have suggested the coronavirus is likely to exacerbate the gender pay gap as many women have been forced to reduce work hours to take care of children.

The report also suggests the crisis has inspired all genders to seek out more socially-conscious employment. In the rankings of most desirable companies, The British Council, Environment Agency and Oxfam were some of the biggest climbers this year, while the NHS kept hold of its title as the top British preferred employer.

Watch: Viral TikTok explains why the gender pay gap isn’t the same for women of colour