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ESRC Wales DTP Collaborative Studentship in Economics - Exploring the Determinants of the Gender Pay Gap in UK Companies

Cardiff Business School

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Prof M Jones , Dr E Kaya No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Cardiff United Kingdom Econometrics Financial Economics Macroeconomics Microeconomics Economics Political Economics

About the Project

Studentships commence October 2021. Applications are invited from exceptional candidates with a first class or strong upper second class honours degree, and appropriate Master’s degree with an average mark of at least 65%. Applications can also be considered from holders of a first-class undergraduate degree in Economics or similar subject with significant economic content.

The University and ESRC Wales DTP value diversity and equality at all levels and we encourage applications from all sections of the community, irrespective of age, disability, sex, gender identity, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. In line with our commitment to supporting and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion, and to increase recruitment of currently underrepresented groups, applications from Black British, Asian British, minority ethnicity British and mixed race British candidates are particularly encouraged and welcomed. 

We welcome applications for full-time study, and studentships are available as either 2+2 (one year MSc in Economics, 1 year MRes in Advanced Economics and 2 years Doctoral study), or 1+2 (one year MRes in Advanced Economics and 2 years Doctoral study).

Please visit here for further information about the PhD Programme at Cardiff Business School.

Applications welcomed by 3 February 2021 (1200 hours).

These studentships are ‘collaborative’ awards. Applicants should take careful consideration of the working title and description of the project, and may wish to contact the named member of staff for a discussion prior to applying.

·      The Lead supervisor on this project is, Professor Melanie Jones, [Email Address Removed]

·      The ESRC Economics pathway lead is, Dr Ezgi Kaya, [Email Address Removed]

Details of the project:

This project is in collaboration with the Government Equalities Office:

Context and Rationale

In 2015, the Prime Minister David Cameron set out to “end the GPG in a generation” and in order to achieve this he introduced legislation which requires larger firms to publish their GPG, for which, the GEO is now responsible. Since April 2017, this information has been collected annually. It is the analysis of this new and unique database containing over 10,000 employers, collected and managed by the GEO, that forms the basis of this PhD and will contribute contemporary evidence to inform the ongoing evaluation, implementation and targeting of UK GPG policy.


The proposal builds on international research which explores, and can only partially explain, the persistent UK GPG (e.g. Manning and Swaffield, 2008). Traditional explanations focus on gender differences in human capital variables such as work-experience and education. As the influence of these factors has diminished (Blau and Kahn, 2017), attention has shifted to job, and subsequently employer characteristics (Jones et al., 2018; Jewell et al., 2020). Yet the evidence has focused almost exclusively on surveys of employees that are not representative of their employer. UK GPG reporting therefore provides rich new data from which to explore variation in the GPG across organisations and assess the extent of narrowing post transparency. The latter is particularly important for the GEO as they evaluate the legislation. Further, building on evidence relating to female risk aversion and ‘the glass ceiling’, this project will also utilise these data to consider company gender gaps in performance-related pay (PRP) and female representation across the company wage distribution.

Possible research questions include:

1.  What determined the size of the GPGs in UK companies in 2017? How does the GPG vary across sector, industry, region and firm size?

2.  What determines trends in company GPGs since 2017? In which types of company has the GPG narrowed most?

3.  To what extent are there company gender gaps in PRP? How do these vary across companies and time?

4. To what extent are females represented in the top quarter of the company pay distribution and how does this vary across companies and time?


This proposal involves advanced quantitative methods, specifically the econometric analysis of GPG Reporting data made available by the GEO, possibly enhanced by linking to other UK Business Data such as through Companies House. The analysis will apply established regression methodologies, including those for panel data to control for time invariant company fixed effects.

Funding Notes

Cardiff University Business School, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP), invites applications for funded PhD study. These studentships, known as ‘collaborative studentships’, involve liaison with a non-academic organisation, often at many key stages of the programme. This competition is open to UK, EU and International students.
This program is available in English only. To request information in Welsh, please contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Team ([Email Address Removed]).


Studentship Awards commence in October 2021 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £15,285 p.a. for 2020/21 for full-time students, updated each year); and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG), though an element of this latter fund may be ‘pooled’ and require separate applications from 2021 onwards. There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, overseas institutional visits and other small grants.
ESRC studentships are highly competitive, candidates should have an excellent academic background in Economics, holding a 1st or strong upper 2nd class degree and an appropriate Master's degree with an average mark of at least 65%; applications from those also holding a relevant Economics Masters degree will be considered for a 1+2 award. Wales DTP studentships are available to both home and international (including EU and EEA) students. All applicants will be eligible for a full award consisting of a maintenance stipend and payment of tuition fees at the UK research organisation rate. Applicants must satisfy studentship eligibility requirements. For further details see the UKRI web site Successful international student applicants will receive a fully-funded Wales DTP studentship and will not be charged the fees difference between the UK and international rate.
2+2 OR 1+2?
A 2+2 studentship provides funding for four years, completing a Masters in Economics in the 1st year, followed by 1 year MRes in Advanced Economics, then 2 years of doctoral research.
Please see the Cardiff Business School website for further detail on the programme structure and admission criteria:
The closing deadline for applications is 12.00 noon on Friday 3rd February 2021. Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview, which are expected to take place in late February/early March 2021. After interview, a final short-list of applicants will be put forward to a Panel convened by the ESRC Wales DTP Management Group at which final decisions with regard to studentship awards will be made. In most cases successful applicants can expect to hear by early April 2021.
A completed application form for admission to doctoral study in Cardiff Business School: submitted by the deadline of 12 noon on 3 February 2021. Incomplete applications or applications received after this specified time will not be accepted.
The application must contain the following documents:
1. Covering letter: Please address to Dr Ezgi Kaya. The covering letter must name the collaborative studentship being applied for. It must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Cardiff University and the Economics Pathway; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; and your academic interests generally, and particularly how these relate to the description of the project supplied. The covering letter should be no more than two pages. Please also specify whether you wish to apply on a 2+2 or 1+2 basis.
2. Academic / Professional Qualifications: Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).
3. References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves and include the references with their application.
4. Curriculum Vitae: This should be no longer than two pages.
5. Research Proposal: For collaborative studentships, the proposal should build directly on the outline description that has been supplied. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:
• Your reflections on the title, aims and purpose of the research;
• An overview of some key research literature relevant to the study;
• Your proposals for developing the design and methods of the study;
• A description of potential outcomes of the project for understanding, knowledge, policy and practice (as appropriate to the topic);
• Bibliographic references

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