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The 10 most sexist cities with the biggest gender pay gaps

Does where you live impact how fairly you’re being paid? Despite it being 2022, the gender pay gap remains a very real thing, with women still being underpaid compared to men in many cities. Here we expose the worst offenders. 

At Adzuna, we analysed over 220,000 CVs of recent job seekers using our free ValueMyCV tool to reveal the most sexist cities with the biggest gender pay gaps. If you’re a working woman, these are the top cities to avoid, and those to move to.


The 10 UK locations with the biggest pay gaps

1. Aberdeen

Gender pay gap: 45.6%

Aberdeen is the most sexist city in the UK this year. The city located in northeast Scotland has a huge gender pay gap of 45.6%. Pretty shocking, isn’t it? The average salary for men in the city is a very respectable £53,002 whereas the average salary for women in the city is £28,836, sitting way below the national average. This is partly due to engineering being the largest hiring sector in the city, accounting for 14% of all jobs. Traditionally, engineering roles are male-dominated and pretty well paid, widening the gender pay gap in Aberdeen. The city is also the centre of the UK’s oil & gas industry, a sector in the spotlight as the government increasingly looks to the North Sea for the UK’s energy needs, and another lucrative but heavily male dominated sector.

The gender pay gap hasn’t always been this bad in the city, however. In 2019, the pay gap in Aberdeen was 36%. Obviously, this gap is still unacceptable but the large increase in just a couple of years shows that the pandemic has severely impacted the local opportunities for women. 

Check out roles in Aberdeen here


2. Ipswich

Gender pay gap: 43%

Ipswich takes the not-so-desirable second spot on the list. The Suffolk town doesn’t fall far behind Aberdeen, with a gender pay gap of 43%. The average salary for males in Ipswich is £43,198 compared to the average female salary of £24,617. 

This could be due to the fact that during the pandemic, roles that are traditionally female-dominated, such as hospitality and catering roles, unsurprisingly took a real dip during the pandemic. In January 2020, there were 139 hospitality and catering jobs in the town, as opposed to just 20 in January 2021 and many employed within the industry were furloughed or lost their jobs, meaning a gap on their CV, ultimately affecting their earning potential. Available roles in this sector are starting to increase again as the sector opens up, but this has been a key cause of the gender pay gap in the town.

If we were to compare this to a male-dominated sector, such as IT, the story is very different. The number of vacancies for IT roles in January 2020 was relatively similar to hospitality and catering, sitting at 175. Although the sector took a slight dip during the pandemic, the recovery of the sector in Ipswich was completely different. In November 2021, available roles in IT in Ipswich reached a huge 868 and currently sits at 803. Typically IT jobs, which account around one fifth of all jobs in Ipswich, are much higher paid than those in hospitality and catering. This means that the male-dominated sector is a large culprit in the gender pay gap. 

Want to work in Ipswich? Look at available roles here


3. Maidstone

Gender pay gap: 42.7%

Maidstone is the third-worst culprit for the gender pay gap. Coming in at a pay gap of 42.7%, the town is performing poorly in gender equality. The difference between men’s and women’s salaries in Maidstone sits at £20,319, which is a really significant difference. Women’s salaries sit below the national average at £27,318, whereas men’s salaries have reached £47,638. 

Like Ipswich, the top hiring sector in Maidstone is IT, which accounts for 14% of all jobs in the town. Again, this is a male-dominated sector, which only widens the gender pay gap. 

Available jobs in Maidstone


4. Slough

Gender pay gap: 36.1%

Another town located in southeast England has snuck into the top 10. It seems that ‘The Office’ isn’t Slough’s only claim to fame as the town has taken spot number four on our list. With a gender pay gap of 36.1%, males in Slough can expect to see earnings of £42,633, whereas women can expect to see a much lower salary of £26,653. 

Due to Slough’s location along the M25 corridor aka the tech corridor, it’s hardly surprising that the town has a large gender pay gap. IT accounts for over 20% of jobs in Slough, which is huge, and unfortunately something that primarily benefits Slough’s male population. 

Take a look at jobs in Slough here


5. Derby

Gender pay gap: 36.1%

The Midlands city of Derby takes the title of fifth most sexist UK city. The gender pay gap in the city is still very high at 36.1%. The average salary for men in the city is currently £42,782 whereas women earn £27,332 on average. 

16% of all jobs in Derby are in the engineering sector. Most notably, the city is home to luxury British car manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

Explore jobs in Derby


6. Milton Keynes

Gender pay gap: 33.7%

Milton Keynes comes in at number six as well as being the third city from southeast England to make the list. On average, men in the town earn £46,854, whereas women earn £31,066, a difference of 33.7%. 

The sector with the highest number of vacancies in Milton Keynes is engineering, accounting for 15% of all vacancies. 

Why not check out jobs in Milton Keynes?


7. Swindon

Gender pay gap: 33.6%

The Wiltshire town of Swindon has a gender pay gap of 33.6%, meaning it sits at number seven on our list. Men from the town earn £41,152 on average, whereas women earn £27,325. This means that men still earn over a third more than women in the town, which is still pretty shocking, isn’t it?

IT jobs in Swindon account for almost a quarter of all vacancies in the town, providing plenty of opportunities for those in tech. The town also has an established financial services sector, as well as a local focus on pharma manufacturing.

Available roles in Swindon can be found here


8. Chelmsford

Gender pay gap: 31.8%

Another southern England city has appeared in the top ten, the Essex town of Chelmsford. The town is seeing a 31.8% difference between the salaries of men and women, with male employees earning £13,984 more than females. 

Trade and construction (11%) and engineering (10%) are the two largest sectors in Chelmsford, which are both heavily male-dominated contributing to the pay divide.

Want a job in Chelmsford? Look here


9. Oxford

Gender pay gap: 29.7%

Coming in at number 9 in our list of the most sexist cities is Oxford, yet another city in the South East! The city has a gender pay gap of 29.7%. Men in Oxford can expect to see a healthy wage of £51,358, whereas women in the city earn £36,355 on average. Although women in Oxford earn above the national average, it’s still disheartening to see a difference in earnings of £15,358. 

Famed for its dreaming spires and famous university, the city is unsurprisingly a hub of research and development, education and academia, and emerging technologies.

Roles in Oxford can be found here


10. Portsmouth

Gender pay gap: 28.9%

The last city to sneak into our top 10 is Hampshire city, Portsmouth. Yep, you guessed it, another city based in the South East! Although the difference in the salaries of men and women is much smaller than any other location on our list, the fact that men still earn 28.9% more than women is shocking. Men can expect to earn £33,550 on average in the city, whereas women will earn almost £10,000 less at £23,870. 

As well as being home to the Royal Navy, the maritime stronghold also boasts a thriving tech sector. The port city can be traced back to Roman times and was once one of the largest and busiest industrial sites in the world. Nowadays, the city is a leading hub for aerospace and defence, digital media, and advanced engineering.

Explore available vacancies in Portsmouth 


The least sexist cities

Now we have taken a look at the most sexist cities, why not spread some positivity and celebrate those with the smallest gender gaps? The top 5 include Belfast (11.7%), High Wycombe (13.4%), Edinburgh (15.4%), Manchester (16.2%), and Stevenage (16.6%). Although these towns and cities are seeing the smallest gender pay gap, it is disheartening to see that locations with a gender pay gap of 20.4% (Birmingham) are seen as some of the least sexist in the UK. Even the least sexist cities have a long way to go to achieve gender equality!

Table 1: UK’s Top 10 Least Sexist Cities – by Gender Pay Gap

CityAverage Female SalaryAverage Male SalaryGender Pay Gap (£)Gender Pay Gap (%)
High Wycombe£35,330£40,783£5,45413.4%


The biggest improvers

Some cities in the UK have even narrowed their gender pay gaps over the last two years. High Wycombe was the biggest improver, reducing its gender pay gap by a very respectable 25 percentage points. Edinburgh was second on our list (-13.8), followed by Reading (-12.0), Guildford (-11.5), and Southampton (-10.0). 

It is disheartening to see that women are still falling behind their male counterparts. There definitely are some locations across the UK moving forward to a more equal society, however, every location in our study is still seeing women earn at least 11.7% less than men, with some cities reaching almost 50%.

Table 2: Biggest Improvers – by Gender Pay Gap

CityGender Pay Gap %, 2019Gender Pay Gap %, 2021Change
High Wycombe38.3%13.4%-25.0


What can we do to narrow the gender pay gap?

In 2019, before the pandemic, the gender pay gap sat at 23.7%, with male earnings averaging £39,752 and female earnings averaging £30,343. But following the pandemic, the gender pay gap has only worsened. Currently, the gender pay gap sits at 25.9%, with average male earnings of £42,817 compared to women’s at just £31,711. This suggests the pandemic has disproportionately affected women’s careers. 

This may be due to many sectors that typically employ more women, for example, hospitality, retail, and travel, having been more affected by the pandemic. It may also be the result of women taking on more of the burden of additional caring needs, childcare and otherwise, during the pandemic, meaning more CV gaps.

To see higher rates of equality in today’s society, we must take a look at the hurdles facing women in the workplace and make efforts to remove them. This could be through providing support to those juggling caring responsibilities, offering more flexible working options, or improving the recruitment and retention of women.

Beyond this, it would be great to see a push to help women take advantage of high growth, high pay sectors like tech and logistics that have proved resilient over the last two years and are home to many of the new job opportunities being created.

We hope to see more cities and companies making a conscious effort to decrease their gender pay gap and ensure all women are being paid fairly for the jobs they’re doing. 


💡 Read more: For more information on this research, please visit our gender bias blog here

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