NEARLY half of all mothers in Leeds are the main breadwinner in their household, despite women continuing to fall behind their male counterparts in wages.
Research commissioned by insurer Engage Mutual revealed that 44 per cent of mothers in the city now provide half or more of the total household income in their families, compared with 43 per cent nationally.
And 17 per cent were responsible for the entire household income - compared to 15 across Yorkshire and the Humber.
The survey of 2,000 mothers also showed that women, which Engage Mutual dubbed MOMIES (Makes Own Money Is Economically Savvy), are increasingly responsible for key financial decisions ranging from which bank to use to how and when bills are paid.
More than half of Leeds’ mums said they were responsible for choosing energy suppliers, paying bills and choosing bank accounts. Just over 50 per cent have their own savings, and 18 per cent have their own investments.
However, the survey showed that just 21 per cent of Leeds mothers questioned have some form of life cover, despite their “invaluable financial contribution” to the household.
Dianne Verity, Head of Customer Services at Engage Mutual said: “Forget yummy mummies, what we have is a nation of savvy mummies or as we have dubbed them MOMIES. They are not only breadwinners for their families but are also making key financial decisions for their households and it is time that financial service providers recognised that.”
However, the survey results are at odds with recent research which suggest that women are still on lower incomes and that a gender gap in pay was still very much in place.
The latest data available from the Office for National Statistics, which suggest the gender pay gap is still very much real - with men earning 10 per cent more than women.
Provisional results from its Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings for 2013 had men’s full-time earnings at £556 per week, compared with £459 for women.
And a study published this week by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) showed the gender gap in management was widening, with women in their 40s earning more than a third less than men. A woman would have to work over 14 years more to earn the same as a male manager over a career, the research showed.
A separate report by the Fawcett Society, released on Monday, showed that almost a million women have moved into low-paid, insecure jobs since the recession, widening inequality between the sexes.
Griselda Togobo, managing director of Leeds’ women’s networking group Forward Ladies, said Engage Mutual’s findings were a “surprise” and that women were still an “enormous untapped potential” in the workforce.
She said: “We know that the contribution women make to the economy has always been understated. However the findings of this report surprise us.
“There are still a significant number of women who are not in work who want to work and women in employment who want to work more hours yet are unable to do so due to childcare restrictions.
Ms Togobo said organisations should be “held to task” on what they are doing to plug the widening pay gap, and pointed to a report by the Women’s Business Council that said equalising economic participation rates among men and women could add 10 per cent to the economy by 2030.
She added: “Despite the findings of this report, women are still an enormously untapped potential. We’ll welcome more research around how we can remove the barriers that working women are facing so more women can be given the chance to achieve their career aspirations.”