Recent data has revealed that the capital’s male headteachers earn, on average, 62,951.06 pounds per year whilst their female counterparts earn only 56,345.22 pounds. That’s a 6,605.84 pound gap.
Greg Dempster, the general secretary of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland, told Edinburgh Evening News that the pay gap was not motivated by gender bias, stating rather that “A higher percentage of headteachers are male in secondary schools so that will be skewing the figures.” Secondary schools ordinarily generate higher pay for headteachers than primary schools, which have predominantly female headteachers.
Statistics from the Scottish Government revealed that in 2016, 86 per cent of headteachers in primary schools were female. Meanwhile, in secondary schools only 41 per cent of headteachers were women.
The Secretary also emphasized that the salaries are determined “[…] using the national job sizing toolkit so every job is measured not with anything to do with the person filling that job. It’s completely gender, ethnicity, and age neutral.”
His comments were backed up by an Edinburgh council spokesman, who stated, “All headteachers are paid based on the size of the school they are managing.”
If, as has been suggested, female headteachers are only paid less because of circumstance, women do seem to be consigned to such teaching positions, provoking questions as to why this is.
Research by Nottingham Trent University and Bedfordshire University suggests that the workforce in primary schools is mostly female due to a number of gender stereotypes that stop men from entering the profession. For instance, “the perception that early years is a woman’s work as they are more nurturing; men can be perceived as threatening to some young children; and the risk of being wrongly accused of indecent behaviour.”
This may explain why men are over-represented in secondary school leadership positions.
Nevertheless, there is little evidence that women are particularly drawn to primary teaching positions over secondary.
Dr. Kay Fuller, of Nottingham University, has argued that there are a myriad of reasons explaining female underrepresentation as headteachers in secondary schools.
Dr. Fuller told The Independent, that due to pregnancy and the demands of child-rearing, “Women’s careers are interrupted and disrupted disproportionately to men’s.”
Right or wrong, the greater likelihood of women taking time off for family-related reasons than men has been found to be a factor in the highering practices of many industries.
Dr. Fuller added, when women take time off work they, “may not come back to a role at the same level.” This makes it harder for women to rise to higher level positions, especially in areas that are dominated by men, such as secondary school teaching.
It is still unclear as to what, if any, action will be taken on the revelations brought to light by this new data, but there has been a significant public outcry, which makes it less likely that this issue will simply be swept under the rug.
Image: Nick Amoscato