Reducing the gender pay gap should be a priority for the government, according to a spokesperson from the Government Equalities Office (GEO).

She said tackling the issue would allow more women to become the breadwinners in families and perhaps lead to fathers paying a greater role in childcare.

Her comments come after the GEO reported that the mean average gap of full-time pay between the genders was 17.2 per cent.

The spokesperson said the government has already done a lot to help working parents balance “often conflicting demands” of work and family life.

Indeed, the right to request flexible working and increases in maternity leave and pay have helped families to enjoy a better work-life balance.

However, it must go further and tackle inequalities in pay, she added.

According to a Cambridge University research study, 46 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men believe family life would not suffer if women went to work.