Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge clashed with Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Amber Rudd, in the Commons this morning, backing academics standing up for pensions, and attacking the university gender pay gap. Last summer, Cambridge University revealed that its pay gap remained at over 18%.
Mr Zeichner linked the current strikes to the pay gap, saying: “Only three universities have so far reported on their gender pay gaps, and on a day when academics are bravely standing up to defend their pensions, can the Minister tell us when she expects that the gender pay gap will be eliminated in our universities?”
Amber Rudd, replied: “Well I would urge all universities to address reporting their gender pay gap; it is the law, they need to do so. And, a word on the other matter if I may, I think it is important that this dispute between essentially students effectively, the universities and their staff is resolved because people need to get their degrees. I would urge the striking lecturers to get back to work”
Mr Zeichner comments: “The Minister’s response showed a complete lack of interest in the plight of academics who have earned their pension, and are now being denied the benefits they signed up for. She also failed to set out any action by the government to improve gender pay gap reporting, or to crack down on the pay gap itself. “
For academics across the country, the gap stands at 12% and has been slowly decreasing in the last few years. The Universities and Colleges Union says that this equates to a shortfall of £6,103 per year for each female academic. In total, this equals £528 million per year.
The gap is also larger at older Universities such as the University of Cambridge, at 16.3%. With less than six weeks to go before the gender pay gap reporting deadline, none of these institutions have reported. Only three universities have so far submitted their gender pay gap to the government’s reporting portal, out of 109 universities in England, and 130 in the UK: Leeds Art University, University of Salford and University of Kent.