Women from graduate level to board director suffer from a gender pay gap, two British surveys have shown, and the gap, if anything, is widening.
A survey of nearly 4,000 jobs from 1, 200 employers by the Institute of Directors has found the pay gap between male and female directors in the UK is getting worse, and is now as much as 26 per cent in some sectors.
At the same time, figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) have suggested there is a clear pay gap between male and female graduates right from the start of their working careers.
Male graduates, it found, were commonly earning £1,000 more a year than their female contemporaries within three years of leaving university.
Last year the average gender pay gap in boardrooms was 19 per cent, said the IoD, but this year it had risen to 22 per cent, much higher than the 17 per average gap across the working population as estimated by the British government.
The biggest gaps were in the service and voluntary sectors, where female pay was as much as 26 per cent below that of their male counterparts.
In the service sector this meant an average salary of £56,933 for a female director compared with £70,657 for a man, said the IoD.
The public sector had the smallest gap (five per cent) and some sectors, such as financial services, had improved, with the gap narrowing from 35 per cent two years ago to 14 per cent last year and 9 per cent in the latest survey.
The average pay increase for directors was 3.5 per cent but, again, there was clear gender gap.
The average basic pay for a male director was up year-on-year, while for his female counterpart it had remained static.
The IoD's director general Miles Templeman said the size of the gender pay gap was "extremely disappointing".
He said: "We would really like to know why this remains such an insoluble problem. Unless we can achieve equality of opportunity in the near future we will inevitably face further regulation in this area.
"It is wholly unacceptable in this day and age that it appears that women in comparable positions do not receive the same rewards as their male counterparts," he added.
The HESA survey found that, within three years of leaving university, 40 per cent of male graduates were earning more than £25,000, whereas for women it was just ovre a quarter.