The Equal Opportunities Commission will not continue its study into pay disparities between the sexes in the private sector, despite a government-funded report recommending a review of the public sector pay scale. A leading social activist said he was outraged by the decision. The report, released yesterday by government consultant Patrick Maule, found no sign of systemic discrimination in wages offered to men and women doing work of equal value. It found women in senior positions were paid less than men, while junior female staff were paid more. The study was launched in 2002 and focused on 76 gender-dominated jobs in the civil service and the Hospital Authority. It compared jobs of equal value in terms of employees' education, skill and working conditions. The consultants said the government should review the pay scale structure to ensure female staff were given a similar number of pay increments to men, from starting to maximum salary point. EOC chairman Raymond Tang Yee-bong said the statutory taskforce set up to evaluate the report decided the study need not be continued into the private sector. 'Females are paid higher when they first enter a job, but when they climb up the ladder they are paid less, so it all depends which point you are referring to if you ask whether there is unequal pay for jobs of the equal value,' he said. 'But no systemic discrimination was spotted as female workers do not suffer consistent lower pay.' Ho Hei-wah, director of the Society for Community Organisation, said this was outrageous. 'How can you base the study on the most protected workforce, which constitutes less than a quarter of the labour market, and conclude from it that wage distribution is just and fair in the private sector?' He said it was a fact that many low-skilled women workers were paid less than men. Mr Tang said there were obstacles to studying the private sector. 'More than 95 per cent is small and medium enterprises ... it will be impractical to expect they will be willing to spend such effort, time and resources on a study whose findings might run against them.'