Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Matthew Hoser (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Revealed: gender pay gap disparities amongst Oxford Colleges

On the 3rd April 2023, it was reported that Mansfield College has closed its gender pay gap.

This means that, taking a median average, men and women are paid the same at the college. The University of Oxford’s last report stated that slow and steady progress had been made in reducing the University-wide mean gender pay gap, falling from 20.1% to 18.1% in 2021.

However, these averages mask significant differences between the 33 Oxford colleges The Oxford Student analysed. To see our full table of gender pay gaps, click here.

Brasenose has the largest mean gender pay gap

Standing at a 29.5% gap between men and women’s pay at the college, Brasenose has the largest gap between its male and female earners. However, the only available  gender pay gap report was from 2018, illuminating a key issue across the colleges.

While it was easy to find most colleges’ equality reports, others were hidden on their websites, appeared not to have been updated recently, or used confusing diagrams. In addition, the University does not have a requirement for colleges to use a standardised template to present their findings, meaning that reports vary significantly in structure and style. This is because colleges are entirely independent from the university. 

… while St Hilda’s has a negative mean gender pay gap

St Hilda’s pay gap for 2021, the most up-to-date version, was -8.9%, meaning that the mean hourly rate of pay for women was 8.9% higher than that of men. Although we cannot isolate any one reason for this, St Hilda’s was a women’s-only college until 2008, which may have encouraged more female academics to apply for senior roles in the college (in fact, 50.8% of those earning in the highest quartile at Hilda’s are women). 

St Catz, Mansfield and Worcester all have median gender pay gaps of 0

A median gender pay gap of 0 suggests that there is no difference between the middle hourly wage for men and women in a college, i.e. when they are arranged from the lowest earner to the highest earner. 

There was no data available for Harris Manchester or Regent’s Park

After changes to the Equality Act came into force on 6th April 2017, companies in Great Britain with over 250 employees must report their gender pay gap figures at the end of every financial year. It is likely that Harris Manchester and Regent’s Park are small enough that they do not have to do this. 

Wycliffe Hall has the largest percentage of high-earning women

63% of those in the upper quartile of pay at Wycliffe were women in 2021, ahead of Somerville’s 52.3% in second place. Founded in 1877, Wycliffe Hall, a permanent private hall (PPH), provides training to men and women who wish to enter Church of England or Anglican ministries. It has a strong equality statement, including requiring that:

“Teachers will make every effort to use examples of women in biblical passages, to reference the work of women theologians and historians and to speak of the role of women in the church, wherever possible and practicable”. 

Only 29.3% of the highest earners at Teddy Hall are women

… followed by Corpus Christi’s 30.2% and Magdalen’s 31%. This suggests that less than a third of the most senior positions in college are held by women, reflecting the university-wide statistics that 71% of staff on University senior grades are men.

Women still comprise ⅓ of leadership roles across the university overall, although Vice-Chancellor Irene Tracey is keen to boost equality and diversity, being the first VC to come from a state-school background. 

69.8% of the lowest earners at Oriel are women

Women are overrepresented in the lowest pay quartile across the Oxford colleges (with exceptions being Queen’s, Keble, Lincoln, St Peter’s and Trinity). Oriel, Balliol, Brasenose, Lady Margaret Hall, and Exeter are the colleges with the most women in the lowest pay quartile. What this likely means in practice is that catering, cleaning and administrative roles are dominated by women in these colleges.