Women must 'ask for what they're worth' to help cut teacher pay gap

#WomenEd leader says schools must involve women in cutting 'shocking' gender pay gap

Will Hazell

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Female teachers need to make sure they ask "for the salary they’re worth" at various points in their career to help reduce the gender pay gap in education, the co-founder of the #WomenEd network has said.

Vivienne Porritt said that individual teachers, schools and the whole education system needed to make changes to close the gap.

Speaking to Tes at the #WomenEd International Women's Day 'unconference' in London, Ms Porritt said the gender pay gap in education was "shocking".

"In a sector that purports to believe in fairness and equity – and those words are written in the mission statements of most education organisations – it’s shocking that there isn’t fairness and equity for women teachers and particularly for women leaders."

She said that some trends in the education system, such as the growth of executive heads and multi-academy trust CEOs, had contributed to the gender pay gap, because many of these roles were occupied by men.

“I think the Department for Education needs to look more carefully at what’s happening and the pay of the new level of leaders - executive heads, CEOs - because I think that’s one of the contributions to the gender pay gap," she said.

But she also said female teachers could help close the gap by "being clear about asking for the salary they’re worth".

"I talk about that at four stages, there’s the first job – if you earn less in your first job it’s going to follow through all the way – any other later job, appraisal, and if you take a career break. At all of those points [female teachers can] lose salary.

"[Women] should be being clear about what they’re worth, raising the point, raising the question, requesting a discussion about," she said. 

"And if they apply for a job and get it, they should have the salary discussion at that point. Most women don’t and when in the [#WomenEd] workshop I asked if anybody did, 95% of female teachers who asked, got it.

"It’s not that they don’t deserve it, it’s that women need to put themselves forward for it."

She said that many women in education "have their heads down working really hard, waiting for people to see the quality of what they’re doing".

"Do what a lot of men do, which is big themselves up.”

Ms Porritt also said that schools needed to ask themselves "hard questions" about their gender pay gap, and work with their staff to take action.

"Individual organisations, employers should level very carefully at their data… I suggest they work with women in the school to explore why that’s the case in that school, what’s happening, whether they’re happy about it, or if they really think they need to do something about, and then have a group together to start working on it."



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Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Will Hazell is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @whazell

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