The UK gender pay gap is among the highest among 20 industrially developed countries, according to research by Warwick Business School, the University of Cambridge and Lakehead University in Canada.
The report,The dimensions of occupational gender segregation in industrial countries, which was published in the journal Sociology, compared the degree to which men and women work in different professions with the gap between their pay.
It found that women earn relatively more money when they choose careers that are not dominated by men.
The research found that the gap between the pay of women and men in Austria, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands is higher than average, which it attributes to the fact that women are more likely to work in the same occupations as men in these countries.
Other countries found to have larger-than-average gender inequality in relation to pay include Japan and the UK. In Slovenia, women earn slightly more than men.
Countries where average pay between men and women is almost equal includes Brazil, Hungary, Mexico and Sweden.
Dr Girts Racko, assistant professor at Warwick Business School, attributed the results to the fact that where there are few men in an occupation, women have more chance to get to the top and earn more. However, where there are more equal numbers of men and women working in an occupation, men tend to dominate the high-paying jobs.
He added: “Higher overall segregation tends to reduce male advantage and improve the position of women.
“The greater the degree of overall segregation, the less the possibility exists for discrimination against women and so there is more scope for women to develop progressive careers.
“For instance, within nursing, men disproportionately fill the senior positions, but the fewer the number of male nurses, the more the senior positions must be filled by women.
“Perhaps our most important finding is that, at least for these industrially developed countries, overall segregation and the vertical [pay gap] dimension are inversely related.
“The higher the overall segregation, the lower the advantage to men. This is directly contrary to popular assumptions.”