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National Indicator: Pay Gap

 Reduce the pay gap

Indicator Measure
Pay gap in median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) between men and women working full-time in Scotland.

Current Status
In 2016, the gender pay gap was 6.2%, a decrease of 1.48 percentage points on the previous year (when rounded to 2 decimal places).

Gender Pay Gap Chart 1997 to 2016

* Please note that dashed lines represent discontinuities in 2004, 2006 and 2011 ASHE estimates. Figures represent the difference between men's and women's hourly earnings as a percentage of men's earnings.

Source: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE)
The data for this chart is available at the bottom of the page.

Last Update: 3 November 2016
Next Update: November 2017

Pay Gap

Why is this National Indicator important?
What will influence this National Indicator?
What is the Government's role?
How is Scotland performing?
Criteria for recent change
Further information
Who are our partners?
Related Strategic Objectives

Why is this National Indicator important?

Maximising economic opportunities for women to participate fully in the economy, and recognising the wider social role they provide, is key to improving economic performance and tackling inequality. Supporting women to overcome the barriers and structural challenges they face in the labour market is good for women and families, good for business and good for the Scottish economy.

An equal and fair country for all means valuing women’s work as highly as men’s. The gender pay gap is unacceptable and does not fit with a modern, prosperous, inclusive economy.

What will influence this National Indicator?

The causes and drivers of the gender pay gap are complex and interrelated. They include:

  • Challenging the segregation of men and women into different job sectors and industries
  • Increasing the representation of women in senior management roles and in the boardroom
  • Paying women the same as men for the same or equivalent work
  • Challenging direct discrimination including pregnancy and maternity discrimination
  • The availability of affordable child care provision and equal sharing of family, care and domestic responsibilities. The task of looking after dependent family members is still largely borne by women
  • More opportunities for flexible working, for example job shares or quality part-time work

What is the Government's role?

The Scottish Government is determined to reduce gender inequality and improve women’s position in the workplace and, indeed, in all aspects of Scottish life. Scotland's strong commitment to equality is at the core of Scotland’s Economic Strategy. The Government’s role is to ensure that our nation’s wealth, resources and opportunities are distributed fairly and address the underlying causes of inequality. Whilst the Scottish Government cannot achieve this on its own, we can play a role in creating, promoting and supporting the right environment and conditions for a fairer Scotland.

The Scottish Government is involved in a range of activity to reduce the gender pay gap, including:

  • Ensuring greater pay transparency - The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2016 lower the threshold for listed public authorities to report their gender pay gap and publish equal pay statements

  • Increasing early learning and childcare provision, from 600 to 1140 hours a year, by the end of the next parliament and funding and playing an active role in the Family Friendly Working Scotland Partnership

  • Working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to challenge pregnancy and maternity discrimination

  • Implementing recommendations from the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce and the Developing the Young Workforce - Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy to address gender imbalances in young people’s career choices and opportunities

  • Taking action to improve women’s representation on boards for example through the Partnership for Change 50/50 by 2020 campaign

  • Promoting adoption of the Living Wage via; The Scottish Business Pledge and increasing the number of Living Wage Accredited employers

  • Implementing the provisions in The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 which help tackle living wage and fair work practices through public bodies’ procurement activity

  • Continuing to support the Strategic Group on Women and Work.  

How is Scotland performing?

Since 1997, the gender pay gap in Scotland has decreased considerably from 18.4% in 1997 to 6.2% in 2016. The gender pay gap in Scotland of 6.2% in 2016 is an all-time low since the ASHE survey began in 1997.

Despite this long term decline, the gender pay gap has fluctuated in recent years. The latest figures show a reduction in the gender pay gap from 7.7% in 2015 to 6.2% in 2016, a decrease of 1.48 percentage points (when rounded to 2 decimal places).

The gender pay gap is often represented as a single figure.  But no single measure adequately represents the complex issues underlying differences between men’s and women’s pay.

The Scottish Government publication ‘New perspectives on the Gender Pay Gap: Trends and Drivers’ describes the different ways of presenting the gender pay gap.

Further measure of the gender pay gap are published on the Scottish Government web site at the following location: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Labour-Market/Earnings

The data is available at the bottom of the page.

Criteria for recent change

The evaluation is based on: any difference within +/- 1.5 percentage points of last year’s figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. A decrease in the gap of 1.5 percentage points or more suggests that the position is improving; whereas an increase in the gap of 1.5 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.

Further information

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

Scotland Performs Technical Note

Who are our partners?

Close the Gap


Equality and Human Rights Commission


Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Poverty Alliance

Scottish Enterprise

Scottish Funding Council

Skills Development Scotland

Strategic Group on Women and Work

Working Families

Related Strategic Objectives

Wealthier & Fairer

Safer & Stronger

View National Indicator Data

Downloadable document:

Title:Reduce the pay gap
Description:Reduce the pay gap
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