Gender pay gap identified from outset

Published: 16 March 2018

A gender pay gap in the accountancy profession of almost a third, has been identified by Professor Catriona Paisey and Dr Betty Wu

Professor Catriona Paisey

Recent analysis undertaken for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) showed the pay gap for members who work full time is 31.8 per cent.
The results also show that women struggle to rise through the ranks in the accountancy profession.
In their analysis of the 2017 Careers and Salary Survey, Professor Paisey and Dr Wu analysed and cross referenced survey data from over 1,200 ICAS members, to explore how gender and social class affect professional opportunities and pay. The respondents answered questions on gender, education and family background.
Their findings also highlight there is a gender pay gap of eight percent within the first two years of qualifying as a Chartered Accountant.
Professor Paisey said: “I expected gender pay gaps but the scale of the gaps was surprising because women make up almost half of new recruits to chartered accountancy. All survey respondents were Chartered Accountants, therefore gaps are not attributable to differences in professional expertise.
“The gender pay gap for ICAS members who work full time is 31.8%. There's an 8% gap within the first two years of qualifying as a Chartered Accountant which means the usual explanations – more women work part-time, are mothers and there’s a glass ceiling - cannot explain all of the gap.  
“This data shows that women are concentrated in the lowest earning bands and that the gap widens hugely with age.
“The largest gaps are for female Chartered Accountants in the financial services (38%) and oil and gas (32%) sectors. This shows that there are substantial structural gender issues in the accountancy profession.”
When looking at the effect of social background, the survey gives an insight into the make-up of Scottish Chartered Accountants. It reveals that a third of Scottish Chartered Accountants attended a fee-paying or selective grammar school and almost half had a father who had a higher professional or managerial career such as an accountant, doctor or lawyer.    
Professor Paisey said: “The analysis shows these factors had an influence on their earning potential: those who attended a fee-paying school earned 16% more than those who attended a comprehensive school; those who attended a Russell group university earned 7% more than those who went to a non-Russell Group university; and those who had a father who worked in a higher professional or managerial occupation earned 6% more than those whose parents had non-professional or managerial jobs.”
There are however, some positive findings regarding social background. Two-thirds of Chartered Accountants had attended a comprehensive school and those whose fathers didn't have professional or managerial jobs had an earning pay gap of only 6% compared with those from more privileged backgrounds.
Professor Paisey said: “The findings show that still more needs to be done to create a fully inclusive and fair working environment for Scottish Chartered Accountants.”

First published: 16 March 2018

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