Women are routinely being paid less than their male counterparts despite taking the vast majority of new roles within the travel industry, a new study reveals.

The gender pay gap may have narrowed but the average male worker still earned 14.2% more than their female counterparts for the typical new travel job in 2019, compared to 18.4% the previous year and a gap of 12.8% in 2017.

The calculations come from new research which suggests that in executive roles men with an average salary of £55,278 earn £6,228 more than women in a comparable role – a pay gap of almost 12%, up from 10.6% in 2018.

Females were awarded 69% of all new travel jobs in 2019 and took more than half (53%) of all executive positions paying more than £40,000 – up from 38% a year earlier.

Women were awarded the majority of roles across all levels of the industry, including 71% of all junior positions paying below £22,000, 73% of mid-level roles paying between £22,000 and £29,999 and 70% of all senior travel jobs paying between £30,000 and £39,999.

While men significantly earned more than women overall last year, the gap was almost entirely a result of the large difference in pay received by the higher earners in travel, according to the study by C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment.

Men were paid 1% more than the average woman for entry-level jobs with £19,152 or a difference of £183. However the situation was reversed for mid-level positions with women out earning men by 0.5% with an average wage of £25,392 or a gap of £136.

The pay gap for senior travel roles was a slightly larger 1.4%, with the average man taking home £32,463, which was £437 more than a female equivalent.

C&M director Barbara Kolosinska said: “It’s obviously good to see that the gender pay gap narrowed last year, but a difference of 14.2% is still nothing at all to celebrate.

“What is positive is the increase in women being awarded higher-paid executive roles in travel. However, women in these senior roles are continuing to be paid far less than their male equivalents – with the gap actually increasing from 2018.”

She added: “While there is some good news to be found in these figures, the big question of course is what impact the Covid-19 pandemic will have on the gender pay gap.

“We don’t yet have enough data to confidently predict the outcome, but the concern is that it will create a setback, with men being increasingly favoured for new placements instead of women due to the extra childcare commitments created by the pandemic.

“If this proves to be the case, it remains to be seen whether this will have a short or long-term impact on gender equality in our industry.”

Claire Osborne, chair of the Association of Women Travel Executives (AWTE), said: “It’s encouraging to see the gender pay gap continues to close in many areas within the travel industry, but it’s clear that we still have some way to go before we achieve parity – particularly in the executive level roles where the gap is at its widest, with many women effectively still working for free for the last six weeks of every year.

“The gap at entry level is now very low, possibly indicating women are valuing themselves more highly as they come into the industry which gives some hope for the future as they progress in their careers.

“The number of women gaining opportunities in our industry is also encouraging, especially seeing that the disparity at senior level is closing, with women taking more than 50 per cent of new appointments. The more women we have involved in decision making will bring us closer to a level playing field.

“It’s unclear how the Covid-19 pandemic will impact women in the industry, as roles are cut and fewer opportunities become available.

“So here at AWTE we will be focusing on offering support to our members to help them focus on positive action and maintaining and growing their network in travel.”