SOAS University of London

Equality and Diversity Office

Gender Pay Gap Report 2017


SOAS is committed to ensuring equality and diversity in the management and conduct of its employment frameworks and practice. Equality of pay for work of equal value is a vital element of this wider commitment. The School monitors pay, differences in pay and the basis for any differences in pay very carefully.

Annual review of the pay gap at SOAS shows a steady decrease in the average pay gap[1] between male and female staff, narrowing from 13.5% in 2009 to 9.8% in 2017. This reflects the steps already made by the School to identify and address the causes of the pay gap. We will continue to take action to tackle these causes across our recruitment, promotion and workplace policies and practice, to reduce the gap further.

This report sets out:

  • The scale of the gender pay gap at SOAS and how it is affected by the different proportions of women in different grades across the School;
  • How our actions have narrowed the gender pay gap in recent years – for example by addressing recruitment to upper middle and senior grades; and
  • The continuing and additional steps SOAS is taking to reduce the gap further by addressing its causes

Section 1: Average Pay Gap

In 2017, SOAS had a mean gender pay gap of 9.8% in favour of male staff, as shown in table 1. This compares to a gap of 16.3% for universities in the Russell Group (twenty four leading research-intensive universities in the UK)[2] and a gap of 14.1% for all Higher Education Institutions in the UK[3].

Table 1: Mean and Median Gender Pay Gap
Pay Gap %
Mean gender pay gap in hourly pay 9.8%
Median gender pay gap in hourly pay 9.6%

The mean hourly rate for women is £20.97.
The mean hourly rate for men is £23.26.

Equal pay at SOAS

It is important to be clear about the causes of the average pay gap. We have a nine-grade structure of incremental pay ranges at SOAS, with roles graded using the widely adopted HERA (higher education role analysis) system. An analysis of the equal pay gap within our grading structure shows fair and equitable salaries by gender within the prescribed salary ranges, with differences largely attributable to time in service in grade and  pay progression, through contractual, incremental pay progression. As discussed in detail below, we recognise that male and female staff are employed in different proportions across our pay grades, which gives rise to the average pay gap by gender. However we are confident that male and female staff are paid equally for like work.

Effects of differential representation across pay grades and roles

Within the UK generally, one of the main drivers of the gender pay gap is existing occupational segmentation: women are under-represented in higher paid roles and occupations. Women are also more likely to have had breaks from work that have affected their career progression, for example to bring up children.

The pattern in the UK economy generally is replicated in the Higher Education sector and in the make-up of the SOAS workforce.  The distribution of male and female salaries at SOAS is shown in the pay quartiles set out in Table 2. This divides the SOAS workforce into four equally-sized groups based on hourly pay rates:  quartile 1 covers the highest paid 25% of employees, quartile 4 the lowest paid 25%.

The quartile analysis shows that the SOAS pay gap is driven by differential distribution of men and women across the pay quartiles. While there is a greater proportion of women than men in the upper middle quartile, there is a significantly greater proportion of women than men in the lower two quartiles, and a greater proportion of men than women in the upper quartile.

Table 2: Gender by Pay Quartiles
Quartile Female Total Female % Male Total Male % Total
1 (upper) 154 44.1% 195 55.8% 349
2 (upper middle) 181 51.8% 168 48.1% 349
3 (lower moddle) 218 62.4% 131 37.5% 349
4 (lower) 216 62.0% 132 37.9% 348
Total 769 55.1% 626 44.8% 1395

Impact of action to tackle differences across pay grades

The finding that the SOAS pay gap is reducing, and is narrower than Higher Education sector generally, reflects the progress that the School has made in recent years in recruiting female staff to middle and senior management roles.

The School is working to encourage applications from women for senior roles and we have been successful in recruiting female staff to these positions. The two highest earning members of staff at the School are female, but there is still work to be done in increasing the numbers of female staff in higher paid roles.

Progress across grades and roles in recent years show:

  • There has been an increase in the proportion of female staff in Grade 9 from 45% in 2015 to 50% in 2017. In Grade 10 (senior management) there was an increase in the proportion of female staff from 37% in 2015 to 57% in 2017
  • We recognise that women remain under-represented in senior academic roles and have taken a number of measures to address this imbalance. There has been a slight increase in the proportion of women in our entry-level professorial pay band (Professor Career Band A/Merit A) from 38% in 2015 to 40% in 2017
  • We are encouraged that women and men are represented equally amongst our 174 senior lecturers and are committed to enabling all staff to progress further, including through the use of individual development programmes as part of staff development reviews
  • Patterns across the professional services group reflect typical, historical work patterns for these groups, with higher proportions of women in junior and middle administrative roles in particular. The proportion of women in Grade 7 has risen slightly from 52% in 2015 to 54% in 2017. The proportion of women in Grade 6 has remained broadly static at 63% in 2015 and 64% in 2017

Section 2: Bonus Pay Gap

Table 3: Gender Pay Gap in Bonuses - successful applications for one-off/non-consolidated payments in the SOAS Reward scheme 2017
Pay Gap %
Mean gender pay gap in bonus pay
  • 8.3% (excluding single anomalous payment
  • 55.2% (including single anomalous payment)
Median gender pay gap in bonus pay 0%
The proportion of all male employees in SOAS receiving a bonus is: 2.7%
The proportion of all female employees receiving a bonus is: 2.7%

SOAS operates a Reward and Recognition scheme which consists of three elements: contribution increments, accelerated increments and one-off/non-consolidated payments. These one-off/non-consolidated payments, are described here as ‘bonus payments’ for the purposes of reflecting the descriptors in the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017.

Thirty eight bonus payments were made at SOAS in 2017.  Discounting one anomalous payment, the mean bonus gender pay gap, was 8.3% in favour of male staff, reflecting the overall gender pay gap at SOAS.

Overall, we judge that the award of bonuses was carried out on a fair basis - the same proportion of male and female employees received bonuses (2.7%) and the mean bonus pay gap was slightly less than the gender pay gap. The median gender bonus pay gap could be said to provide the more accurate reflection of the equality of bonus payments at the School, as the calculation eliminates both very high and very low bonus awards. The median payment to men and women was identical in 2017 – ie there was no median gender gap in bonus pay.

Section 3: Key Measures and Actions to Further Narrow the Gender Pay Gap

While the SOAS gender pay gap is narrower than organisations across the whole UK economy and within the Higher Education sector, the School is committed to continuing to take action to reduce the gender pay gap further.

We have committed to a series of actions to address recruitment (the Athena Swan Charter), promotion (Promotion Done Better programme) and workplace policies (Family Friendly Review).

Under our Athena Swan action plan, the School has committed to:

  • Increase the proportion of women holding full-time academic contracts
  • Increase the proportion of women who are professors and the proportion on the higher professorial grades
  • Increase the proportion of BME women holding permanent academic contracts.

The School’s ‘Promotion Done Better’ programme aims to increase the numbers of BME and female staff in senior academic and professional services positions by supporting and enabling their career progression. The School has put in place a range of measures including a mentoring scheme aimed at BME and female staff, the introduction of acting up and secondment policies, measures designed to encourage staff to apply for annual rewards and promotion and the provision of career development programmes and workshops.  

The School is implementing a series of measures to remove barriers faced by female academic and professional staff with caring responsibilities and to assist in developing their careers, as a result of the SOAS Family Friendly Review process. Outcomes of the review include enhanced maternity pay; enhanced adoption and surrogacy pay; enhanced shared parental leave and pay; emergency care payments for staff who need to arrange emergency adult caring or childcare support; and out of hours payments for staff to attend activities linked to career enhancement, such as evening conferences and seminars, and research presentation opportunities representing SOAS.


We have taken active steps to tackle the gender pay gap at SOAS in recent years which have had a positive impact on reducing the gap. The gender pay gap at SOAS is narrower than at other UK universities. However, more needs to be done through our recruitment, promotion and workplace policies to focus on the structural causes of the gap. This remains a priority issue for us.

Valerie Amos
SOAS University of London

  1. The 2017 SOAS Gender Pay Gap report provides a snapshot of the numbers and distribution of staff by gender as at 31 March 2017. The figures have been calculated using the standard methodologies contained within the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017. The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average earnings of all men and women across an organisation irrespective of their role. It is expressed as a percentage of the average earnings for men
  2. UCU ‘Holding down women’s pay’ (April 2016)
  3. JNCHES data for the UK 2016