Women hold just 12% of full-time jobs paying £150,000 or more, new figures suggest.
The UK Statistics Authority data released to Parliament highlights a drastic difference between the proportion of women and men in the country’s highest-paying roles.
Campaigners and Tory MP Jake Berry hit out at the latest indicator of the gender gap at the top of the British workforce, which emerged from data dubbed the country’s most comprehensive statistics on earnings.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said progress is being made to boost diversity in boardrooms, with the number of all-male boards down from 152 to nine in six years at the country’s top companies.
But Mr Berry, who obtained the figures via a written parliamentary question, said it was “a disgrace” that so few women were employed in high-earning jobs.
The MP for Rossendale and Darwen added: “This is a damning verdict on the gender pay gap among the highest earners.
“The Government needs to do more to tackle this and ensure women have the opportunity to get these top jobs.
“Theresa May is one of few women in this bracket and the whole country could do with more people like her in positions to make a difference.”
The 12% estimate comes from the annual survey of hours and earnings, which is based on a 1% sample of pay records from HMRC.
UK Statistics Authority chief executive John Pullinger called the survey “the most comprehensive source of earnings information in the United Kingdom” in his reply to Mr Berry.
Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “We know that very few women make it into the highest earning senior roles.
“This in turn drives the gender pay gap, which is over 50% at senior management level.
“Until we get women to the top of organisations in significant numbers, we won’t be promoting the best talent nor making the best decisions, massively holding back our productivity.”
The 2016 survey put the gender pay gap between full-time workers at 9.4%, and 18.1% between all workers given the greater number of women working part-time.
Among the highest-paid quarter of full-time employees, the gender pay gap was 18.8%.
A BEIS spokeswoman said: “The boardroom must reflect modern Britain, which is why the Government asked Sir Philip Hampton and Dame Helen Alexander to examine how to improve the representation
of women in the executive layer and champion continued increases in the representation of women on boards across the FTSE 350.
“We’re starting to see the results of this, with women now representing 23.5% of board positions across the FTSE 350, up from 9.5% in 2011.
“There were 152 all-male boards across the FTSE 350 in 2011; now there are nine, and we are clear that companies will do better if they make better use of the talent available and increase
boardroom diversity to reflect their workforces and wider society.”
A Resolution Foundation study released earlier this month found the gender pay gap for women in their 20s has halved to just 5%, but the progress will be undone in later life.