New research shows that men expect annual salaries of £41,615, on average, whilst women’s expectations of annual salaries were much lower at £31,066. The difference between salary expectations of men and women has doubled since 2018.

According to new research by Universum, an employer branding company, the expectations of salary between men and women had over a 25 per cent gap. In 2018, this gap stood at 13 per cent.

On average, men expected to get salaries of £41,615 a year whilst women only expected to get salaries of £31,066.

This disparity has been particularly shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic as, interestingly, men’s expectations for salaries has risen whilst women’s have fallen. Previously, in 2019, men’s salary expectations were £40,500 on average and women’s were £31,400.

The report also found that men sought recognition in the workplace and women preferred job security. It stated that “men were drawn to challenging work and increased recognition” and women “preferred companies companies with better job security, leaders who will support their development and continued education opportunities”.

The priorities of employees also varied significantly by regional locations within the UK.

Whilst workers from Scotland and Wales said their main priority was an encouraging work-life balance, England’s workforce reported that their top preference was the opportunity for professional training and development within their job.

However, both England and Scotland highly valued a clear path for advancement within careers, a competitive base salary and a friendly work environment. Conversely, Wales valued secure employment more.

This report additionally analysed the most attractive employers of 2020 in various fields including business, engineering, IT, humanities, law and medicine. Within these spheres, companies such as Google, the NHS, BBC, Civil Service, Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) and Amazon consistently topped the list as some of the most competitive and sought after companies to work for.

Steve Ward, Universum’s UK Director, said:

 Male and female professionals have had a remarkably different response during the pandemic. While men hope to remain challenged, recognised and be rewarded more, women are erring towards attributes that provide greater support and security.

With IFS research showing that mothers were more likely than fathers to have left paid work during lockdown, the impact of Covid-19 on earning confidence and the gender pay gap could be set to get worse as we enter another round of tight restrictions from government. It’s never been more important for employers create a culture that recognises life outside work and embraces flexibility.


*These findings have been taken from Universum’s 2020 report: “The Most Attractive Employers in the UK” which surveyed 23,323 professionals from October 2019-May 2020.






Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.