The gender pay gap for young women in 2022

The ONS 2022 gender pay gap statistics, released on 26 October 2022, show that the overall gender pay gap for women of all ages is 8.3%. The gender pay gap is calculated as the difference in average hourly earnings between men and women.  

This has risen slightly from 2021, when the pay gap was 7.7%. However, the longer-term trend is downwards, and the pay gap has decreased from 9% in 2019, before the pandemic. 

For 18-29 year olds, there is a smaller gender pay gap than for older workers, at 2.25%. This is most likely because as women get older and have children, the motherhood penalty kicks in – as well as the pay gap widening for higher earners.  

However, comparing the difference in overall annual pay, not just average hourly earnings, helps us to see the bigger picture – including the impact of women working fewer hours than men. This shows us that there is an annual income gap for 18-29 year olds of 21%. That is, young women in 2022 take home on average 21% less pay each year than young men.  

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

“It’s outrageous that in 2022, we see girls outperforming boys at school and tell them they can be whatever they want to be – only to expect them to earn a fifth less when they enter the world of work. And these official figures will mask even greater disparities for women from racially minoritised communities. 

While the official gender pay gap is smaller for younger women – many of whom haven’t yet seen the impact that motherhood has on their careers and salaries – action to stop this happening early in working life and set young women up for fairer financial futures is essential if we’re to close the pay gap overall. 

Although any widening of the gap is a cause for concern and is another symptom of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women, we can take heart from the longer term downward trend. This shows us this is a problem that can be successfully tackled.  

To do that, we need flexible working to be available in all jobs, from day one and by default; salaries to be clearly advertised on all jobs; and universal, affordable childcare. Young women need support to progress so they don’t get stuck in low-paid roles. And we need an end to the persistent combination of sexist and ageist attitudes in too many workplaces that still stop young women progressing as fast as men.”