UK information workers subject to significant gender pay gap

Share this on social media:

UK information professionals are subject to a significant gender pay gap, while there is low ethnic, gender and age diversity in the sector, according to a survey by CILIP – the UK-based Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals – and the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) (ARA)

The survey’s coverage – with 10,623 responses across the public, private and voluntary sectors – makes it the most robust and comprehensive of its kind ever undertaken in the UK, says CILIP.
The survey revealed that:

  • Despite having a predominantly female workforce, at 78.1 per cent, male workers typically earn more than women, and are nearly twice as likely to occupy senior management roles than their female counterparts;
  • The workforce has lower ethnic diversity than the national UK Labour Force Survey statistic, with 96.7 per cent of workers identifying as ‘white’, almost 10 per cent above the national workforce average;
  • The sector has is an ageing pool of workers, with the highest proportion (at 55·3 per cent)in the 45-to-55 age band; and
  • The workforce is highly qualified, with over two thirds holding postgraduate qualifications and most having professional qualifications as well as membership of a relevant professional body. At the same time, average wages in the sector are around the same as the UK average as a whole.

Nick Poole, CILIP chief executive, commented: 'The UK’s future success as a knowledge economy depends on securing the next generation of library and information workers with the skills and competencies to support communities and enterprise. For the first time, thanks to this survey undertaken by CILIP and the ARA, we are able to take an in-depth look at this workforce and develop our plans accordingly.
'On the positive side, we have an expertly-skilled and highly educated workforce. Of greater concern are the significant gaps in pay equality and diversity which the results have highlighted.

'As the professional body for library and information workers, CILIP is calling for a National Library and Information Skills Strategy which will enable us to attract high-quality talent from diverse backgrounds into the profession and to work with employers to create knowledge-based jobs and opportunities to support their future growth.'

The survey puts the size of the UK information workforce at 86,376. Other results show that workers in information, records and knowledge management typically earn more than their counterparts in libraries and archives. The survey does not show a clear link between qualifications and earnings, as a high proportion of workers in the sector who are very well-qualified and experienced also remain relatively low paid.

John Chambers, ARA’s chief executive, commented: 'We undertook this joint initiative at our own expense and without government support. Our conclusions are robust: the survey sample is bigger and more comprehensive than anything the government can call on. The results show that we have much to do to get our own house in order – not least on diversity and gender disparities. But it also shows that many highly-qualified people working in archives, records and information management are not well paid.

'We now have a benchmark for strengthening our advocacy with government and business. Both say they are serious about the UK becoming a knowledge economy. But this survey shows, self-evidently, that they should be doing more to ensure that the sector and its people get the investment and attention that is needed.'