The belief that female managers are paid less than their male counterparts is a myth according to new figures compiled by the Chartered Management Institute and Remuneration Economics.
The 29th annual National Management Salary Survey shows that the proportion of women in management posts has more than trebled in the last ten years, rising from fewer than one in ten in 1994 to one in three this year.
Women managers are also paid the same as their male colleagues. The salary of the average female department head is less than 1 per cent lower than that of the average male equivalent (equating to a difference of £475 ), while in the most senior management positions the difference is smaller still.
Women also appear to receive higher pay rises than men. For the seventh year, women's pay rises have outstripped men's with an average rise of 5.9 per cent compared to only 5 per cent for men.
The unprecedented rate at which women are filling management positions means that many are now the biggest wage earners in their families, overturning the myth that women are less committed to their careers and work less effectively than men.
However the research also shows that the turnover of management-level staff is still high with female managers more likely to resign than their male counterparts. Annual labour turnover amongst UK managers is 10.8 per cent, but the research reveals that more women (6.4 per cent) than men (3.3 per cent) are walking away from their jobs.
The majority of women move voluntarily, with less than 2 per cent leaving because of redundancy or retirement.
The Chartered Management Institute’s head of research, Karen Charlesworth, said that the closure of the pay gap may be due to an increasing number of women managers working in higher-paid disciplines.
"There are certainly more women leading teams within functions such as finance and marketing compared to this time last year,” she said.
"The growth in the number of female managers, often better qualified and educated than previous generations, reflects social changes and cultural shifts. More women return to work after having children and the number of dual-income families has steadily increased."
"However, it will still be some years before the UK achieves parity between men and women in management positions. It’s a situation that many employers need to address as they cannot afford to miss out on the talents of half the workforce."
The survey, covering some 21,000 men and women and all levels of management, showed that the most lucrative areas for female managers are research and development where women earn more, on average, than their male counterparts.
Compared to the same time last year, the functions with the most improved earnings potential for female managers are research & development and IT – both of which have jumped three places in the table. Purchasing and sales are the only two disciplines which have remained unchanged.
But women’s pay packets do depend on the area they live in. People living in inner London collect the highest average income (£49,658) compared to Northern Ireland, where the average pay packet is £34,179, a difference of almost one third.
Paul Campfield, director of Remuneration Economics said: “With almost 30 years of reporting, this research provides a valuable picture of management progress over a considerable period of time. It is encouraging to see that women’s equality in the workplace is getting stronger but there is still a long way to go.”