STAFF from Oxford University held a 'non-working lunch' yesterday, to highlight equal pay day.

The lunch marked the date from which female staff work 'unpaid' for the rest of the year, when compared with men.

Held outside the Clarendon building, the event followed leafleting and a cake sale to highlight the gender pay gap.

Organisers from University and College Union (UCU)'s local branch said around 30 women attended.

UCU representative Dr Laura Paterson welcomed the University's approach but said action needed to be taken more quickly. She added that casual contracts contribute to the gender pay gap and needed tackling 'as a priority'.

Nina Hallowell, an Associate Professor at the University, added: "It is sad that gender inequalities in pay still persist nearly 50 years since the passing of the equal pay Act (1970), which was supposed to bring to an end to disparities in pay between men and women.

"The gender pay gap lunch and bake sale today was a nourishing and delicious way to heighten public awareness about the gender pay gap that still exists at the University."

Oxford has a gender pay gap of 13.7 per cent and employs around 9,000 women and 8,000 men, UCU said.

Charlotte McKillop-Mash, a subject librarian at the Bodleian, added: "It was really heartening to see our unions raising awareness of the gender pay gap and I’m glad that they’ll be pushing the University to do better for its staff. We need the colleges to do better for their staff too: there are nine colleges with a worse pay gap than the central University.

"So much of the problem is that women are over-represented in the lowest paying jobs and wildly under-represented in the highest paying jobs. It might be difficult to raise much sympathy for people earning so much, but it’s unacceptable that 82% of people earning over £100K are men."