This article contains data from the Annual Survey of Earnings and Hours, 2016. But you can also explore the gender pay gap and test your knowledge using the latest data from the 2017 Annual Survey of Earnings and Hours.

One of the ongoing talking points in the workplace and government is the difference in pay between men and women. In her first statement as Prime Minister, Theresa May highlighted that:

"If you’re a woman, you will earn less than a man."

Addressing this inequality in pay is one of the government’s aims. Last year's consultation marked the start of Closing the Gender Pay Gap ensuring that "women achieve their full potential and the productivity of the nation is improved".

The pay gap impacts on some of the most recognisable faces in society. While Theresa May is likely earning the same as her predecessor David Cameron, the same cannot be said of people in other occupations.

In the last year, actress Jennifer Lawrence expressed anger at the large variation in earnings in her industry, while in the tennis world, Serena Williams highlighted the difference in her pay compared to male equivalents.

But just how large is the difference?

One of the widest gender pay gaps is in financial occupations. Our Annual Survey of Earnings and Hours (ASHE) full-time hourly pay data shows, for example, that male financial managers and directors earn 32.4% more than women in the same occupation.

The Gender Pay Gap (GPG) is the primary measure used when comparing differences in pay between men and women. It is calculated using hourly pay (excluding overtime) for full-time employees.

Of course this is an average figure and there is quite a bit of variation within this occupation in terms of pay.

The average gap in pay between men and women in the UK is 9.4%. It is most pronounced for legal secretaries where women earn 23.0% more than men, and assemblers of vehicles and metal goods where men earn 33.6% more than women in the same role.

Test your knowledge on the difference between earnings of men and women in seven different occupations

ASHE full-time earnings1 gender pay gap2, 2016, UK

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Pay between genders is complicated as it does vary over a lifetime. It can differ depending on whether you are looking at full-time or part-time working (or both), what age you are, what ethnicity you are and your seniority within an occupation. For example there may be a wider (or narrower) GPG in those earning a higher salary as an actor than in those earning a lower salary.

It’s also important to consider the ratio of men to women in each occupation and whether any difference is due to one gender being disadvantaged in this field or whether they are just naturally more or less inclined go into that type of work.

The reasons for the gender pay gap are complex and overlapping:

  • girls do well at school but often choose occupations or sectors that offer narrower scope for financial reward - many of the highest paying sectors are disproportionately made up of male employees.

  • a proportion of the gap may be due to the negative effect on wages of having worked part-time or having taken time out of the labour market to look after family.

  • women may not progress in work at the same rate as men due to cultural attitudes, lack of flexible working and stereotyping.

  • some older women may need to learn new skills to take advantage of employment opportunities in growing sectors; others may have increased caring responsibilities for partners, grandchildren or ageing parents.

More information on ASHE is available here.

Other Visual.ONS articles

Find out the gender pay gap for your job
Women shoulder the responsibility of ‘unpaid work’
The gender pay gap – what is it and what affects it?

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  1. The quality of earning estimates vary by occupation - there are quality measures available
  2. The pay gap is calculated using median hourly pay rates (excluding overtime)