The pay gap between male and female directors has shrunk by five percent over the last year, the biggest improvement in ten years, according to a survey from the Institute of Directors (IoD).
The IoDís annual Directors Rewards survey reveals that the average female director now earns an average of £59,000 compared with a basic salary of £70,000 for a male director.
The progress being made by women echoes research by Cranfield School of Management which found that the number of women on FTSE 100 boards has increased by one fifth over the past year.
Carried out for the IoD by Croner Reward, the survey - which is based on a cross-section of IoD members (excluding those from the FTSE 250) - also shows the average pay increase for directors in general in 2003 was 3.5 percent, a little above inflation and broadly in line with the rest of the workforce.
However the overall gap between male and female directors still stands at 16 percent - a significant figure, but a substantial improvement on the 32.5 percent in 1991.
The UKís boardrooms therefore have some way to go before they catch up with the pay parity that is emerging elsewhere on the managerial ladder. Earlier this year, figures from the Chartered Management Institute found that the salary of the average female department head is less than 1 per cent lower than that of the average male equivalent (a difference of £475).
The IoD survey also found that managing Directors in small companies received an average pay rise of 3.2 percent and are forecasting 4 percent next year. But a quarter of non-executive directors received no increase last year, and of those who did, the average was 4 percent.
Three-quarters of Managing Directors in large companies reported their pay review was based on performance. This corresponds to 67 percent in medium sized companies and 64 percent in small companies.