In the latest edition of Graduate Market Trends published today (Thursday 7 March 2013), the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) considers earnings data from the Futuretrack1 study, reporting an unfair salary advantage for male graduates.

In her article on gendered earning power, Jane Artess, director of research at HECSU, explores the fact that male graduates continue to get paid higher than females:

“Equal opportunity to access jobs and pay has been enshrined in legislation for 40 years yet Futuretrack found that being female can make a difference to a graduate’s earning power.  Despite having the same UCAS entry tariff points, attending the same type of institution and studying the same subject, men are commanding higher salaries than women.

“The gender distribution of graduate earnings is strikingly uneven - more women are at the lower end of the salary range, particularly within the typical starting salary ranges of £15 – 17,999 and £21 – 23,999, and men are more likely than women to earn higher salary levels of £24,000 or more.

“This is true across all the broad subject areas, even where women’s participation is greater than men’s. It is difficult to see why this is, for example, female graduates of media related subjects are no more or less numerous than their male counterparts yet their earnings are typically lower. Of the Futuretrack respondents there were fewer men than women in law, yet there is an even greater male lead on earnings.

“Since it would be unlawful for employers to pay males and females doing the same job differently, something else must be happening to female graduate earnings. If we look at wages by sector, the male lead is persistent in the public and private sectors, in graduate workplaces and also in graduate and non-graduate job roles. The only area where female pay is equal to males is in the not-for-profit sector. 

“One rather more heartening finding is that satisfaction with career tends improves with higher salaries. This is particularly so for women who report earnings of £40 – 49,000 and £60,000+, who were demonstrably more satisfied with their careers than their high earning male peers. However, relatively few graduates, and even fewer females, achieve salaries at these high levels.”

This is an excerpt from the winter edition of Graduate Market Trends, which dissects Futuretrack with further commentary and analysis. Other topics discussed include the impact of debt on postgraduate study accessibility, the role of work experience in employability and graduate destinations based on subject studied. 

Graduate Market Trends is a free quarterly publication by HECSU. To register for regular copies of the report or to read the latest edition visit hecsu.ac.uk

1Futuretrack, commissioned by HECSU and undertaken by the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick, provides unprecedented evidence of student experiences and transition into employment. 2006 UCAS applicants were surveyed at four points in their careers: as they were about to embark on higher education, one year later, after three years of study and finally in 2010 and 2011/12. The large sample enables an unparalleled and detailed analysis of the significance of variables such as minority ethnic group, gender, subject studied, plus regional and socio-economic background. The final stage of the study launched in November 2012, it surveyed more than 17,000 graduates and reported their experiences of graduating into one of the worst recessions in history, comparing perceptions from previous stages of their journey.