5 APRIL 2017

The gender pay gap is a problem that’s far from being solved. With recent ONS data finding the gap is still as high as 13.9% in the UK, it’s unclear whether it’ll be this generation, the next, or the one after that which will see women finally making as much as their male counterparts. Particularly following the government’s dismissal earlier this year of an action plan to close the gap proposed by a cross-party committee of MPs, the future of gender pay equality is complicated to say the least.

However, a new whitepaper from RED Driving School has revealed that there is one collective of workers proving it is possible for women to make as much, if not more, than their male colleagues: driving instructors. According to RED, the average female driving instructor makes £25.84 an hour, compared to £24.47 an hour for the average male instructor. That adds up to £754.53 a week on average – £35 more than men.


This isn’t a trick that can be explained by the fact that women in this profession are simply clocking up more hours. The reality is that as well as making more than men, female instructors are also working less, with their average week 29.2 hours long compared to men’s 29.4 hours. Not only that, but their prospects are only getting better, with the whitepaper reporting a 10.9% rise in their average hourly rates over the last year, and a 19.5% increase in weekly gross income. When it came to how both male and female driving instructors felt about their earning potential over the coming 12 months, the large majority were confident, with 94% believing their income would either increase or stay the same.

As well as high earning potential, women who aren’t already considering switching career to a driving instructor may be persuaded by the fact that job satisfaction is high. As highlighted in the report, nearly all (93%) of driving instructors are satisfied with their job, with 43% of RED driving instructors specifically describing themselves as very satisfied. Flexible working hours, independence and earning potential are just some reasons, with social interaction and the joy that comes with teaching also making driving instructing a worthwhile career choice.


When it comes to the groups most affected by the gender pay gap, mothers are up there at the top thanks to the ‘motherhood pay penalty’. Indeed, a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that the effects of women leaving work to raise a family can be felt even 12 years after having their first child, and at that point they’re earning 33% less an hour on average than men. However, a career as a driving instructor could be the perfect move for mothers returning to work – as well as taking home a healthy salary in an industry that’s one of few pioneering gender pay equality, they can plan their working life around their parenting commitments and take on as many or as few learners as they like. And, with franchises such as RED helping new instructors find their feet in their new career and providing them with customers, mothers – or anyone else looking to fit casual work into their schedule – can get back some of their much-needed time.

Graduates were another group found to be well-suited to the life of a driving instructor, particularly with so many choosing to go freelance or self-employed straight from university. What’s more, boredom ratings for graduates in teaching roles were incredibly low at just 4 in 10, compared to 8 out of 10 among graduates in administrative jobs. This is largely explained by the social elements involved – indeed, 86% of graduates in autonomous teaching jobs linked their high job satisfaction to social interaction.

While it’s encouraging to see some industries paving the way to gender pay equality, there’s still a long way to go, particularly when it comes to women in their thirties, forties and fifties looking to change career or go part time. However, it does seem that, when it comes to this issue, driving instructors are the unsung heroes of our communities. As well as being teachers of valuable life skills for those young and old, driving instructors and their wider industry signal hope not just for women employed by a company, but for those who are looking to go freelance, reduce their hours or launch their own businesses. The driving instructing industry is allowing women to take back power over their income, all the while championing the benefits of being self-employed and setting an example for other sectors on closing the pay gap.

Jessi Cole, Senior content executive for Havas Media GroupABOUT AUTHOR 

Jessi Cole is a senior content executive for global communications company Havas Media Group. As well as working on creative campaigns for a range of clients, including not-for-profits, she is an active member of Havas Fusion, an initiative championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.