Women make up more than two-thirds of the third sector workforce and suffer from less of a gender pay gap than they do in the private and public sectors, according to a briefing paper published by the Third Sector Research Centre this week.
The paper, Women's Leadership, Employment and Participation in the Third Sector and Social Enterprises, says women account for 67 per cent of third sector employees, compared with 64 per cent in the public sector and 40 per cent in the private sector.
It says women employed in the third sector earn on average 16 per cent less than their male colleagues. In the public sector, the gender pay difference is 22 per cent and in the private sector it reaches 33 per cent.
The research also reveals that female third sector staff earn more on average than women in private sector companies, but that public sector women earn the most.
The mean average hourly wage for women in the third sector is £11.13, compared with £10.17 in the private sector and £12.46 in the public sector. However, women in senior positions in the private sector earn more than those in the other two sectors.
The paper says that 50 per cent of third sector senior managers are women, compared with 46 per cent in the public sector and 24 per cent in the private sector.
"The third sector generally may offer opportunity for women to establish and run organisations as well as gain employment with higher rates of pay than they could find in the private sector," the report says.
Simon Teasdale, a researcher at the Third Sector Research Centre, said the research revealed a positive picture of the third sector gender pay differential compared with other sectors.
"If jobs are being moved from the public sector, then it's definitely better for women if they move to the third sector than to the private sector," he said.