Business woman (9)

Women continue to make up a smaller fraction of those with high incomes as they get closer to the top, as less than a quarter the UK’s top 1% of earners are women, according to a new study.

For the first time, the study looked at the gender composition of those with top incomes from all sources, not just from earnings.

The new study, International Inequalities Institute, looked at data from women in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Spain and the UK.

Although women have been increasing their representation in the top 10%, very little progress has been made at the very top 1%.

Using tax data from eight countries since the 1980s or earlier, the London School of Economics found that women are also less than a third of those in the top 10% in all the countries.

Norway was found to have the least proportion of women in the top 10% and 1% of earners, and results found women made up as few as 22% and 18% respectively.

Only 9% of the top 1% in the UK are women, the lowest of the six countries that can be compared.

The research highlighted the presence of women at the top has generally increased over time, although not in Australia, but less rapidly at the very top.

Over time the speed of the fall in the presence of women moving from the top to the very top has become more marked as there appears to be a ‘glass ceiling’ at the very top, despite some improvements for the top 10%.

Alessandra Casarico, a professor at Bocconi University in Italy and co-author said: “Women now make up more of the top income groups, but they still are a distinct minority and they become rarer the higher one climbs.

“Composition of income is important. In the old days, the rich were those with property; they have been replaced by CEOs and entrepreneurs, among whom women are not well represented.”

In the UK, while the share of women in the top 10% and top 1% has risen since the 1990s, the share of women in the top 1% was little changed.

The research shows that it is important to look not just at the gender gap in pay from work, but also at who benefits from other kinds of income, such as dividends and interest.

Professor John Hills, co-director at the LSE's International Inequalities Institute said: "Right at the top it is still a male world."

"Women have managed to increase their representation in the top 10% because of their success in the professions and business, but few of them are among the very wealthiest."

The research coincides with the recent findings my accountancy firm Deloitte, who announced the gender pay gap won't close for more than half a century based on current salary progression, meaning equal pay will not be achieved until 2069.

The accountancy firm said the hourly pay gap between men and women of 9.4%, or about £1.30, was narrowing by just 2.5p a year.