On 4 April, UK firms employing more than 250 people were legally required to submit their gender pay gap figures to the government. While the general findings show gender inequality in pay is still going strong – despite being obviously illegal – auction houses fare particularly badly. 80% of the 547 organisations surveyed so far paid women less per hour on average than men, with the median pay gap standing at 9.7%.

Bonhams Bonhams. ARR.

Given the relatively high number of employees requested to pull the data, almost all art galleries, non profits and smaller auctions houses were exempted. Only three auction houses have released their numbers: Bonhams, Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Bonhams has the dubious honour of topping the list, with a 36.7% pay gap, while the difference at Christie’s stands at 25% and Sotheby’s pays women 22.2% less than male colleagues.

Christie’s Christie’s. Courtesy Christie’s.

The firms also indicated the average payment gap, but this figure tends to be skewed by a small number of big earners in the highest brackets, where men are more represented than women. At Bonhams, only 27% of employees in the highest paid quartile are female, that number being 47.6% at Sotheby’s and 43% at Christies. All three companies have stated their commitment to bridging the gap.

Tate Modern Tate Modern. ARR.

To end on a positive note, public institutions did much better on the equality front: the Arts Council England has a median pay gap of 2.6%, while women out earn men at the British Museum and Tate Galery!

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