Gender pay gap masks deeper inequalities for young women

1 November 2023

The latest ONS 2023 gender pay gap statistics, released on Wednesday 1 November, show that women continue to earn less than men with an overall pay gap of 14.3%, slightly down from 14.4% last year. The gender pay gap is calculated as the difference in average hourly earnings between men and women.   

For younger women (18-29 year olds) the picture shows a smaller gender pay gap at 2.8% but one that’s increased from last year (2.25%). This gap continues to grow as women get older and start a family, as well it widening further for higher earners.  

Whilst the hourly gender pay gap figures are one measure of inequality, looking at the difference in annual income between men and women reveals the true scale of the problem, which stands at 19% in 2023. This takes into account factors such as women working fewer hours, and is much larger for young women than the hourly pay gap. The income gap shows that far from just being a problem that kicks in later in working life, income inequality is there right from the start. 

Claire Reindorp, Chief Executive, Young Women’s Trust, says: 

“Gender pay gaps focused on hourly wages are one important measure, but they underestimate the true scale of the financial inequality women face. When you look at annual income the reality is shocking. In 2023 young women are losing out on just over £4000 every year right from the start of their working lives and this snowballs when other factors kick in later in life such as motherhood. It’s also important to recognise all these figures are averages, and for some groups – such as women of colour – inequalities are even greater. 

“Today’s data shows very little has changed and with the cost of living crisis having a disproportionate impact on young women right now, we need more action. It makes sense to start tackling income inequality as soon as young women enter the workplace. Politicians need to listen to young women and ensure equal pay, flexible working and affordable childcare. We also want employers to recognise their role in supporting young women to progress at work. Fixing this broken rung on the career ladder will set the next generation up for a fairer financial future – a future they have been entitled to for a very long time.” 


Notes to editors

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About Young Women’s Trust:

Young Women’s Trust champions young women aged 18 to 30 on low or no pay. We’re here to create a more equal world of work and raise young women’s incomes.

We offer young women free coaching, feedback on job applications and information to help them get where they want to be. We bring together a thousands-strong network to support each other, build their self-belief, and have their voices heard. We work with young women and anyone who experiences misogyny and sexism to campaign for equality in the workplace. And our research provides insight into what young women’s lives are really like, fuelling our campaigns for change.