Pay discrepancies between Cambridge academics mean that male staff earn almost £10,000 more on average than their female counterparts.

A University-commissioned study into equal pay, which considered the salaries of over 1,500 University academics, reveals that the average pay for male academics is £58,141, compared to £47,353 for their female equivalents – a 21.2 per cent difference.

The report attributes the difference to the fact that more men are employed at higher pay grades.

In a statement, the University said it would “proactively address” the issue of gender imbalance in the top pay grades. CUSU’s Women’s Officer described the findings as “shocking and disappointing”.

The figures, published this week, have led to calls for a review of why fewer female academics apply for pro motion. 73 per cent of the 1,537 academics whose salaries were reviewed are men.

In a report to the University Council, Joan Whitehead, a psychology lecturer who specialises in gender issues, argued for a more detailed study into female academic promotions.

“Data on applications for promotion do clearly show that women are less likely to apply for promotion than men, but when they do apply they are just as likely to be promoted as men,” she wrote.

“The attitude seems to be that the under-representation of women at the higher [pay] grades is their fault for not applying for promotion. What we need to do is seriously address the question of why women do not apply for promotion in the same numbers as men.”

According a statistical analysis by Dr Whitehead, women are over-represented in the lecturer pay grade and under-represented in the senior lecturer grade, taking into account the g ender proportions amongst the academic staff as a whole, which feeds into the overall salary differences.

Natalie Szarek, CUSU’s Women’s Officer, has expressed concern at the “shocking” findings.

She noted that, despite government legislation promoting equal pay and gender equality in the workplace, the University still needed to significantly improve.

Cambridge must “move with the times”, Szarek said, warning that CUSU would continue to pressure the University to reduce gender inequality, though she acknowledged that “a lot of progress” has been made in recent decades.

But she cautioned that equal pay was only one aspect of gender inequality at Cambridge, and that attention should also be paid to the “shockingly” small number of women at the higher levels of the University.

This week’s report was the first study published by the Equal Pay Group, a body set up to report on pay patterns across the University.

The average salary for women across all job categories was £28,247, compared to £37,157 – a 31 per cent difference. The group’s report ascribes this difference to the different numbers of men and women employed in higher pay grades.

A statement from the University said: “The University is committed to equal pay for equal-valued work, and in 2006 introduced a single pay spine to progress this.

“This report, commissioned by Cambridge to evaluate the distribution of pay by gender, indicates that pay differential between men and women across all University roles is below 3%, with only a small number of exceptions where this is higher.

“The University intends to proactively address any issues revealed by the report, including the gender imbalance at the higher grades.

“This pay-review will be published annually as part of the University’s broader commitment to equality of all kinds including remuneration.”

Commenting on the difference between male and female average pay, the group, which includes University HR staff and trade union representatives said: “These figures reflect the imbalance in the gender distribution within the overall staff profile, ie proportionately more women are employed on lower grades and more men on higher grades.

“Within grades more men appear at the high end of the pay scale as they have longer service with the University.”