Lies, damned lies

The Office for National Statistics reports the gender pay gap is at its narrowest since figures were first collected in 1997. In 2010, the ONS finds, full-time working women were paid 10.2 per cent less than their male counterparts, down two percentage points from last year.

It certainly sounds like a reason to be cheerful. But attentive readers will note that these figures jar with research by the Chartered Management Institute in August of this year, reported in an earlier post. The CMI research said that women would have to wait 57 years before they were paid the same as their male colleagues. Women in the UK, the report found, were paid just 79 per cent of male rates, while the EU average was 82 per cent.

And the ONS does go on to report: “The gender pay gap for all employees has decreased to 19.8 per cent from 22 per cent in 2009.”

I was about to fire off an e-mail to Channel 4 journalist Cathy Newman’s FactCheck blog when I tripped over a further sentence in the ONS report that disambiguated the findings: “Calculated using the mean rather than the median, women’s hourly pay was 15.5 per cent less than men’s pay for full-time employees, 11.7 per cent less than men’s pay for part-time employees and 19.3 per cent less for all employees.”

So, while the news is good in part, unfortunately it is not the whole story, where the picture remains rather less rosy.

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

The 'Women at the Top' blog is part of a series of online and print publications that focuses on women's achievements in business. With up-to-date news and incisive analysis, the blog will provoke discussion on the role of the world's most prominent businesswomen.

For more Women at the Top news, video interviews and other features, visit


About our bloggers

Liz Bolshaw

Liz Bolshaw is a business journalist and editor. She has been a successful book publisher, online editor, magazine editor and publisher.

She was launch editor of the Europe-wide online community Entrepreneur Country, has published magazines for PwC, 3i, dunhill and Bafta, and launched The Sharp Edge, a magazine for and about entrepreneurs, with Duncan Bannatyne. She is a regular contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal.

Her last project for the Financial Times was as editor of the paper’s Business Education magazine.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She writes regularly for the FT on business education, entrepreneurship, and management.

Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is an associate editor and the management editor of the FT. He was City editor of the FT and editor of the daily Lombard column on British business and finance from September 2006 to December 2010.

He was the FT’s financial editor from June 2005 to September 2006, with overall responsibility for coverage of companies and markets. Before becoming financial editor, he was the FT’s comment & analysis editor, in charge of the paper’s opinion and features pages.

From 1999 to 2003, he was the FT’s New York bureau chief. He joined the FT in 1988 and has also worked as foreign news editor, UK companies reporter and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.

Pino Bethencourt

Pino Bethencourt is a professor and leadership expert at IE Business School in Madrid. She is also an author and executive coach.

Lynda Gratton

Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School.

Linda Tarr-Whelan

Linda Tarr-Whelan, former ambassador to the UN commission on the status of women, is a Demos distinguished senior fellow.