Gender pay and equal pay

From 2017 any organisation with more than 250 employees has a legal obligation to report its gender pay gap. The gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across the University. As an employer with more than 250 employees the University will publish statutory calculations on its pay gap every year.

Gender pay gap in ordinary pay

On the 31 March 2017 the University’s workforce for the purpose of gender pay gap reporting consisted of 17,363 individuals: 9,238 women and 8,125 men. The University’s gender pay gaps are as follows:

Gender pay gaps in ordinary pay  Female earnings are
Mean gender pay gap in ordinary  hourly pay 24.5% lower
Median gender pay gap in ordinary  hourly pay 13.7% lower

The gender pay gaps identified are mainly attributable to the lack of women in senior roles in the University. There is an uneven distribution of men and women across grades, with women generally accounting for a higher percentage of staff at the lower end of the structure and a higher percentage of men in senior grades. A slightly greater proportion of women than men are employed in the upper middle pay quartile.

Proportion of males and females in each pay quartile Male Female
Upper quartile 62.8% 37.2%
Upper middle quartile 48.8% 51.2%
Lower middle quartile  40.7% 59.3%
Lower quartile  34.9% 65.1% 

Gender pay gap in bonus pay

Gender pay gaps in bonus pay Female earnings are
Mean gender pay gap in bonus pay 79.0% lower 
Median gender pay gap in bonus oay 48.7% lower


Proportion in receipt of bonus pay 
Male 7.6%
Female 8.9%

A report on these findings is provided in the documents section at the side of this page.

Gender pay is different to equal pay. The gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across the University. Equal pay ensures we are paying the same level of pay to those who are performing the same work, or work assessed as being of equal value as determined by an analytical job evaluation scheme which looks at the skills and requirements of the job.

Equal pay audits

The University is committed to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value for all employees. The University has conducted equal pay audits both for its main salary and grading structure and for senior staff since 2009, and these are conducted every 3 years. The most recent equal pay audits were conducted in 2016/17.

More information about both gender pay gap reporting and equal pay audits can be found here:

The University’s commitment to gender equality

The University of Oxford is committed to closing its gender pay gap. Promoting gender equality is a key strategic priority for the University as demonstrated by a number of initiatives:

Athena SWAN

Athena Swan is a gender advancement accreditation scheme which supports good employment practices for women in higher education. It offers a valuable framework for introducing cultural changes that create a better working environment for both men and women.

The University has an institutional Athena SWAN Bronze Award, which was renewed in April 2017 The renewal process reiterated the University’s commitment to gender equality and involved widespread consultation to agree an action plan for the period 2017-21. Many of the actions are aimed at supporting the career development of women, and increasing the number of women in senior roles.

In addition, 30 departmental awards are held across the institution, with the majority at Silver level.  Each award has an associated action plan with specific measures to promote gender equality. 

Equality targets

In order to demonstrate its commitment to achieving a meaningful increase in the representation of women, the University set a number of targets in March 2016 as part of the reviewed institutional Equality Objectives.

Women’s representation in leadership

The University’s first female VC was appointed in 2016.

In 2015 the University created a new PVC role, the Advocate for Equality and Diversity, to ensure that equality and diversity is embedded throughout the institution.

Following agreement of the University’s targets, guidance was issued to individual committee chairs and secretaries. There has subsequently been an increase in female representation on Council and its five main committees from 34% to 41%.

Career development

The Ad Feminam senior women’s mentoring scheme has been running since 2012, and in its three iterations, has matched 205 women with mentors across the University to support personal career planning and progression. Since 2002 over 1,500 women in the University have taken part in Springboard, which aims to enable women to clarify their aspirations and work out, in a mutually supportive environment, a means of navigating their way towards their desired future. The Academic Leadership Development Programme which actively seeks women participants, has had 47 women take part since 2013, a number of whom have subsequently taken on senior roles including Head of Department.

Statutory professor recruitment

In 2013-14 the University introduced revised procedures for statutory professor recruitment. Panels are required to undertake a proactive search process and request permission from the VC to proceed at each stage if no appointable women are being taken forward. Members of electoral boards are explicitly reminded at the start of each recruitment where bias can occur e.g. in references. The changes have had considerable impact with an appointment rate of 35%, in contrast to an appointment rate of 15% in the period 2010-12. This has resulted in an increase in the proportion of female statutory professors from 10% in 2013 to 16% in 2017.

Comprehensive support for staff with caring responsibilities

The University provides excellent support to staff to balance their career with caring responsibilities. For example:

  • The University provides 477 full-time equivalent nursery places, the highest in the sector.
  • The Returning Carers Fund, launched in 2014 with investment of £240,000 p.a., is a small grants scheme which supports those who have taken a break for caring responsibilities to re-establish their research careers. It has provided support to 178 academics and researchers to date with significant evidence of impact, both in terms of career outcomes and as a signal that the University is serious about supporting the careers of those with caring responsibilities.
  • The University provides enhanced guidance and support for carers through a subscription to My Family Care, an external employee benefits provider.

Promoting the visibility of women

The University has many prominent female role models. Among our staff are numerous Fellows of the Royal Society, recipients of Queen’s Birthday and New Year’s Honours and prize winners – including L’Oréal For Women in Science laureates and fellows. Women’s achievements at all levels are celebrated in University and department media.

The Full Picture’ is a major University initiative, which aims to widen the range of people represented across the University. The first stage was to find and highlight existing Oxford portraits illustrating the diversity of its past and present, capture them digitally and create slide shows for use at events and display in public spaces. Phase 2 commissioned 24 new portraits by different artists and in various media, which were displayed in an exhibition in 2017, prior to being hung across the University. 18 sitters were female and the project also celebrates other identities.

The flagship Women of Achievement lecture series aims to raise the profile of women of high achievement, increase the range of role models accessible to women at Oxford, and challenge and inspire the entire Oxford community.

Annual Equality Reports

There is a breadth of equality and diversity work undertaken at the University which covers all the protected groups and actively engages in issues of intersectionality between gender and other protected groups.

The University publishes a comprehensive annual Equality Report setting out key equality data and summarising the University’s main equality-related activity during the preceding academic year. The Report contributes to the University’s evidence-based policy making and enables it to:

  • identify and action areas for further improvement;
  • inform the setting of targets and indicators for the existing equality objectives; and
  • consider what additional objectives should be identified.