Last year the gender pay gap narrowed very slightly, according to a report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Pay rates for full-time women workers rose by 4%, whilst those of their male counter-parts rose by only 2%, narrowing the pay gap from 17.4% a year ago to 16.4% now.
51% of the UK workforce is male, and 49% female, thus neatly reversing the figures for the population as a whole. However, women are much more likely to work part-time - 41% as opposed to only 11% of men. Consequently, they are more likely to receive lower (hourly) rates of pay rather than salaries.
The report looks at figures for both full and part-time workers, and finds that, although there has been some movement, the gap is still wide. Because it is statistical rather than analytical, it does not offer reasons for the change, and the report as a whole has received very little coverage.
The full report (Statistical Bulletin: 2009 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings) examines a variety of issues besides gender, and it can be donwloaded from the ONS website at http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/ashe1109.pdf