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Gender gap in graduate employment

Female graduates are notably less likely to get a graduate level job than their male peers, a study by Oxford University’s Careers Service has revealed. The research showed that new female graduates earn on average £4,000 a year less than new male graduates.

The study, which involved 17,000 students from seven different universities, found that 90 per cent of men are employed in a graduate level job six months after graduation, with an average starting salary of £25,000. By contrast, just 81 per cent of women were in a graduate level job after six months, with an average salary of £21,000.

The study took into account several possible factors before concluding that gender had the biggest impact, as Jonathan Black, director of Oxford’s Careers Service, explained, “We set out to explore the possible drivers of securing a graduate-level job, and considered gender, ethnicity, social background, degree class, subject, and disability.

“We were pleased to find that social background appears to have no significant effect on securing a graduate-level job: a finding that we should celebrate. Indeed, of all the factors we explored, gender has the biggest effect, with a statistically significant lower proportion of women than men achieving a graduate level job within six months.”

In addition to the statistical analysis, the Careers Service also conducted interviews with hundreds of Oxford students regarding their attitudes towards careers. This research found that men tended to think about and make career choices earlier in their university degrees than women, who were more focused on academic work and extracurricular activities. Men were also found to be more confident in approaching the recruitment process.

In terms of career priorities, women had a greater focus on job security and getting a job they considered to be helping a worthwhile cause compared to their male colleagues. These attitudes also appear to be prevalent among sixth form girls, whose views were revealed in a separate Oxford Careers Service survey of around 3,200 male and female students across 42 independent and state schools.

Oxford is involved in a number of projects that aim to close the graduate gender gap. Oxford pioneered the Springboard career development programme for female undergraduates. This project is now running at several other universities.

An Oxford University spokesperson told Cherwell, “Oxford University’s Careers Service has been a leader among UK universities in its efforts to support female graduates in their career choices – which is why it undertook the research to see what factors affect graduate destinations and salary.

“While a disappointing graduate pay gender gap persists, Oxford is in an excellent position to address some of the attitudes and concerns that affect female students’ career destinations thanks to programmes like its Springboard assertiveness and self-confidence training.”

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