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UK Travel Industry Pay Gap Narrows But Women Still Paid Significantly Less

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

Despite taking the vast majority of new roles within the travel industry, women are still routinely being paid less than their male counterparts, according to new research from C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment.

October 29th, 2020 - A survey by C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment suggests that the travel industry’s gender pay gap has narrowed, but the average male worker still earned 14.2 per cent more than their female counterparts for the typical new travel job in 2019, compared to 18.4 per cent in 2018 and a gap of 12.8 per cent in 2017.

While men significantly out earned women overall last year, the gap was almost entirely a result of the large difference in pay received by the higher earners in travel.

For entry-level roles, men earned 1.0 per cent more than the average woman with £19,152 or a difference of £183, however the situation was reversed for mid-level positions with women out earning men by 0.5 per cent with an average wage of £25,392 – or a gap of £136.

The pay gap for senior travel roles was a slightly larger 1.4 per cent, with the average man taking home £32,463, which was £437 more than a female equivalent.

However, there remains a significant difference in pay for those in higher-paid executive roles with the salary gap standing at 11.94 per cent meaning the average man earns £55,278 which is £6,228 more than a woman in a comparable role. In fact, the pay gap for executive positions has increased from 10.6 per cent (or £5,742) in 2018.

Barbara Kolosinska, Director at C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment, said: "It's obviously good to see that the gender pay gap narrowed last year, but a difference of 14.2 per cent is still nothing at all to celebrate. What is positive is the increase in women being awarded higher-paid executive roles in travel. However, women in these senior roles are continuing to be paid far less than their male equivalents – with the gap actually increasing from 2018.

"While there is some good news to be found in these figures, the big question of course is what impact the Covid-19 pandemic will have on the gender pay gap. We don't yet have enough data to confidently predict the outcome, but the concern is that it will create a setback, with men being increasingly favoured for new placements instead of women due to the extra childcare commitments created by the pandemic. If this proves to be the case, it remains to be seen whether this will have a short or long-term impact on gender equality in our industry."

Claire Osborne, Chair at The Association of Women Travel Executives (AWTE), added: "It's encouraging to see the gender pay gap continues to close in many areas within the travel industry, but it's clear that we still have some way to go before we achieve parity - particularly in the executive level roles where the gap is at its widest, with many women effectively still working for free for the last six weeks of every year. The gap at entry level is now very low, possibly indicating women are valuing themselves more highly as they come into the industry which gives some hope for the future as they progress in their careers. The number of women gaining opportunities in our industry is also encouraging, especially seeing that the disparity at senior level is closing, with women taking more than 50 per cent of new appointments. The more women we have involved in decision making will bring us closer to a level playing field.

"As Barbara mentions, it's unclear how the Covid-19 pandemic will impact women in the industry, as roles are cut and fewer opportunities become available. So here at AWTE we will be focusing on offering support to our members to help them focus on positive action and maintaining and growing their network in travel."


About The Author

Karl Sigurdsson - Senior Contributor

Karl is a senior contributor at and knows the European travel industry inside out. Karl is a freelance travel writer specialising in the European market. Karl studied at both Stockholm University and Reading University.

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