As predicted, companies are scrambling to submit their gender pay gap reports before the deadline. As the Guardian reports, more companies have published their figures with less than 24 hours to go, than for the first 326 days of the service running. 

While the breadth of the gender pay gap makes startling headlines, with declarations so far putting the median difference of 18%, the data paints a more complicated picture. The figures do not offer a direct comparison of pay per role between men and women - Ryanair's gender pay gap of 67%, for example, is far less startling when analysing the occupational difference. Their pilots are predominately male (only 8 out of 554 pilots are female), while more women are employed as lower paid cabin staff. 

While the gender pay gap makes grabbing headlines, what the data really tells us is that women continue to be unrepresented in senior roles across all industries — and by a large margin. Worldwide, only a quarter of senior roles are occupied by women. 

Women now hold 27.7% of directors’ seats in the boardrooms of FTSE 100 companies compared with 11% in 2007, yet this is largely a result of women being hired as part-time non-executive roles as part of a drive to meet targets. Analysis by Cranfield School of Management shows that the proportion of women holding the most influential non-executive positions, such as chairman and senior independent director, is just 8%, compared with 6% a decade ago. 

As the last companies submit their figures today, remember to look past the headlines at a more insidious issue of gender parity. Despite making up half of the workforce, women continue to be underrepresented in critical decision-making roles. Many will have burning questions for their employers over the next few days, but don't just ask for a pay rise, instead, ask for a promotion, ask "Where are our female leaders?".