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Queen University has worst gender pay gap

By Rachel Martin

Queen's has come under fire from its own staff after a study found it has the widest gender pay gap among senior academics of 24 leading UK universities.

QUB's female professors were paid nearly 15% less than male colleagues, figures collated by the Higher Education Statistics Agency show.

In 2015/16 this meant a female professor would earn almost £12,000 less on average.

The findings showed QUB had the highest percentage pay gap among the Russell Group, a body made up of the 24 leading UK research universities.

Dr Leonie Hannan, a research fellow at the university, and the University and College Union's equality representative, said the issue had been raised many times by members.

She said: "We always knew this was an issue from what members were reporting and saying anecdotally, but now we have the concrete evidence that this is the case.

"The issue goes much deeper - my colleagues will also talk about a lack of opportunities for career progression.

"Some very high-ranking women in the university are affected, and some have felt they have no choice but to look for opportunities elsewhere.

"I'm early career and it's very demeaning for me to look and see that only 22% of senior management positions are filled by women."

Professor Mary O'Dowd, a gender history lecturer, said she was "puzzled" by the discrepancy when she first became aware of it four years ago.

However, she acknowledged that progress had been made.

She said: "It hasn't been a priority, except in the last year; a committee has been set up to investigate the issue and there is a lot of sympathy.

"A lot of it has to do with the retention of male professors who have been offered positions elsewhere and might have left the university if they weren't offered higher salaries."

Queen's said it was tackling the issue and supported the career development of women in the university.

It added: "Queen's is committed to improving the careers of academic women as evidenced by our success in the Athena SWAN awards.

"Queen's recognises that there is more work to be done to promote gender equality, including the gender pay gap, and is taking positive steps to address these issues.

"The university has carried out a professorial gender pay gap review and is developing a holistic action plan, in consultation with the professoriate, to address the gap."

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