August 2020

IZA DP No. 13635: Pay Transparency Initiative and Gender Pay Gap: Evidence from Research-Intensive Universities in the UK

Given the ongoing efforts to close the gender pay gap across different sectors in the UK, this paper investigates the impact of a pay transparency initiative on the gender pay gap in the university sector, focusing on the Russell Group of top-tier universities. The initiative, introduced in 2007, enabled public access to mean salaries of men and women in UK universities. Using a rich individual-level administrative dataset and a difference-in-differences approach comparing men and women, we document several key findings. First, following the pay transparency intervention, the log of salaries of female academics increased by around 0.62 percentage points compared to male counterparts, reducing the gender pay gap by 4.37%. The effect is more pronounced considering a balanced sample (1.27 percentage points increase in female wages or an 11.59% fall in the gender pay gap). This fall in the pay gap is mostly driven by senior female academics negotiating higher wages and female academics moving to universities with equal opportunity. We do not find any evidence of pre-existing wage gap or the gender composition associated with the fall in the gender pay gap.