WOMEN in full-time jobs are still being paid an average of 6.2 per cent less than men doing the equivalent job, according to new figures, while for all employees the gender pay gap is 15.6 per cent.

And efforts to close the wages gap are so slow it may be not be eradicated for another 50 years, according to a study by the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (Spice).

Researchers with the organisation found the largest pay gap is in finance and insurance, where 51 per cent of employees are women, but they earn 29.9 per cent less than the median income of the men working next to them.

Across sectors, the gap is largest at senior management and at director level, and in the skilled trades.

The research will be highlighted today when MSPs on the economy, fair work and jobs committee launch an inquiry into the impact of unequal pay. It will focus on whether making pay more equal could boost the Scottish economy.

UK Government figures suggest equalising women’s productivity could add £600 billion to the economy.

Convener Gordon Lindhurst said it was important to understand the impact of the gender pay gap on the country’s economic performance and would hear from both the “victims” of unequal pay and the businesses that are trying to end the gender pay gap.

He added: “Equal pay is still not a reality for many working people in Scotland. An important question for the committee will be: is this holding back Scotland’s economic growth? The committee will examine whether addressing the gender pay gap could positively affect Scotland’s business performance.”

MSPs will also ask how many women are paid less than men in the public sector. He said. “What is the effect of unequal pay on the Scottish public sector? And crucially, what action is required from the Scottish Government to tackle the issue.?”

Jeanette Forbes, chief executive of an Aberdeen-based cabling and IT provider, had first hand experience of the pay gap early in her early career when an oil company paid her less as an IT worker than a male colleague doing exactly the same job. “While he earned £26,000 I earned the company’s office administrator rate, “ she said “I asked my bosses for equal pay. They said no, because I didn’t have the same qualifications.”

While raising a family, she studied part-time at night school for an IT degree, which she achieved. “Finally armed with my qualification and six years’ experience, I asked for equal pay and was turned down flat,” she said. “My bosses told me I had the qualifications but I did not have the experience of doing the job with the certificate.”

She quit, and while she says that was decades ago “the gender pay gap is still a very much a live issue and still exists”.

While the so-called motherhood pay penalty is often blamed for women reaching lower points on a salary scale than their male counterparts, critics say that is no justification for the unfairness of paying someone a lesser amount for performing the same role and tasks. Spice suggests the phenomenon is alive and well in Scotland, and women earn more than men only aged between 30 and 39 years old.

However, progress is being made with the full-time pay gap at an all-time low, but it added that on current trends it may not be eradicated until 2069, or 99 years after the 1970 Equal Pay Act. and women working full time have a higher median pay in Scotland than women working across the UK.

The Association of British Insurers said the financial services sector was determined to improve its record on workplace equality. A spokesman said: “There is much more that can and is being done.” to ensure that the financial services industry reflects the diverse society it represents.”