Gender pay gap - are men more likely to ask to start on a higher starting salary than women?


I am undertaking some research as part of my apprenticeship about the gender pay gap in my organisation. I am looking in to whether the reason a higher percentage of men seem to start on a higher scale point than women when they join the organisation is due to men being more likely to ask whether they can start on a higher salary or whether its just due to bringing in experienced males in to the organisation.

I have been looking into research around this and have only found anecdotal evidence suggesting than men may be more likely to ask to start on a higher salary than women. I was wondering if anyone knew of any interesting pieces of research around this topic, any interesting anecdotal evidence or whether you have any interesting observations of your own?

Many thanks 

  • The gender pay gap is not explained by men starting on higher salaries since equal pay legislation protects women from being paid less for doing the same work.

    The gender pay gap is actually a reflection of the lack of women in more senior roles (typically reported as 'the upper quartile') which is more likely to be the result of both unconscious bias and a lack of access to flexible working in those senior roles.
  • In reply to Anna:

    Hi Anna, fully agreed on the second point. No doubt this accounts for a large percentage of the pay gap.

    Just curious about the first one - surely this accounts for some of the gap? Just because there is legislation to protect equal pay, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Just as people are protected against discrimination and not being paid less than minimum wage - it does happen.
  • In reply to Jacob Stuart:

    I can't remember where I saw the research but I am pretty certain that male and female graduates start out on parity but as the years go by, men outstrip the women in their cohort more and more. Some of this is attributable to women taking maternity leave which interupts their progress up the organisation or switches them onto the "Mommy Track". Again, there is law to prevent women suffering detriment for this reason, but it happens.
  • In reply to Anna:

    Hi Anna. Thank you for your reply. I agree with your points - the lack of women in senior roles is sure to play a big part in the gender pay gap.

    I am aware of the equal pay legislation. What I am looking at is whether there is any data to suggest that men ask to start on higher scalepoints of an agreed grade/salary band for a role as opposed to starting at the bottom of the grade by default. People starting at higher scalepoints within a grade is likely to be due to having previous experience in the field but I'm curious to know whether men negotiate higher starting scalepoints than women or whether this doesn't play a part at all.

    Do you have any thoughts on this?
  • In reply to Gemma:

    Anecdotally, I'd agree that it seems men are more likely to ask than women.

    Exchange with my boss (the FD) about a year after I'd joined my current organisation:

    FD: Some good news - you've managed to cut our recruitment costs by 40%, so saving us over £15,000 this year.
    Me: Ah, excellent.
    FD: If you were a man, you'd have asked for that £15K as a bonus.
    Me: Ah. <Reflects on moment as personal development.> Can I have it as a bonus?
    FD: No.
  • In reply to Jacob Stuart:

    Jacob, there is some research evidence that does suggest women don't ask (and don't get when they do ask) the same level of starting salary as men. This is an equal pay issue and one of the reasons behind calls for pay/salary transparency.

    However, I would reiterate that it is not driving the gender pay gap. If you look at the reports women at more junior levels are likely to earn the same as their male counterparts. The gap at senior levels is mainly due to the fact there are fewer women at those levels.
  • In reply to Anna:

    Anna. Can you reference the research you mention in the first paragraph please?
  • Regarding starting salary, when being hired through an agency, salaries are becoming more transparent. Personally, I encourage job seekers to push back when agencies ask ‘what salary did you last earn’ and tell the agent what salary they are looking for.
  • In reply to dawnwragg:

    Hi Dawn, I can't give you a specific reference. It's simply that I come across articles relating to this from time to time. There is however a very good book called Why Women don't Ask which you might find of interest: www.amazon.co.uk/s
  • it's not so much about asking it's more to do with women tend to get offered less because they can't work as many hours u less they are full time. This is a assumption that most women will have children and families, and not be as reliable as our male counterparts. BUT there is a thing called equality and gender pay gaps, isn't this supposed to make it more even, and give everyone a more equal chance?
  • In reply to Elizabeth:

    Many years ago, I recall reading an article around woman are less likely to apply for a role if they don't meet all the essential criteria where men will. This added to the fact that women take a period of maternity leaves, stalls progression and contributes to gender pay gap
  • In reply to Nina Waters:

    For the record, I would not have asked for that money as a bonus.
  • Hey. It seems to me that men and women at the beginning of their career path are in equal conditions. There are problems in further career advancement. In my opinion, this lies in the fact that a woman is potentially considered as a housewife or a person further burdened with domestic life and children. Therefore, for her, career advancement and, accordingly, an increase in wages are more difficult to achieve than men
  • In reply to Rose:

    You've nicely summarised the unconscious bias that exists in so many organisations Rose; and that we in HR should be working to eradicate!