The gender pay gap in the civil service should be sorted out before the Government lectures other employers, the equalities minister has been told.
Tory MP Philip Davies said Whitehall should get its own house in order on wage disparity between men and women as it moved to hold the private sector's "feet to the fire" on the issue.
Education Secretary Justine Greening, who is also minister for women and equality, told MPs the wage gap "opened up" once female workers started a family.
Ms Greening told the Commons Women and Equalities Committee that the gender wage gap in the Department for Education was 5.9%, compared to 13.6% for the civil service, and the overall, national figure of 18.1%.
The Cabinet minister said: "I think it is important that the public sector plays its role as an employer in reducing the gender pay gap.
"There is still some way to go, particularly for older women. Particularly for women who have left work and started a family.
"It is that transition for women going through their careers in actually a much lower pay gap for women up until that point, and then it's after the point of starting a family when it starts to open up.
"What it is telling us is that we are making some progress, but actually, it's that moment of women starting a family that we particularly now need to focus in on."