Gender pay gap begins for students straight after university – report

The gender pay gap in favor of men begins the moment students graduate from university, according to employment data that also reveals black graduates are more likely to struggle in the labor market.
Figures collected by universities from graduates entering the workforce found that men had already begun earning on average 10% more than women 15 months after they left university and that even among graduates with similar qualifications there remained a wide gap in pay.
The figures, published for the first time by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa), show that most 2018 graduates who gained their first degree and were in full-time paid UK employment were earning between £24,000 and £27,000 a year. But on average, men were better represented in the higher earning brackets. Only 16% of women with a first degree earned more than £30,000 within 15 months, compared with 28% of men. In the highest bracket, men had double the representation: 6% of men earned more than £39,000 a year after graduation, compared with 3% of women.
“No sooner than a year after young women have returned their graduation gowns, those who have a job find themselves worse off than their male counterparts,” said Joe Levenson, of the Young Women’s Trust, an organization advocating for economic justice for women aged 18 to 30.
“If these inequalities are to be tackled, we need to smash career stereotypes, which are leaving young women locked out of better-paid careers. Gender pay gap reporting – suspended by the government during the coronavirus outbreak – needs to be reinstated immediately to shine a light on the inequalities existing in employers across the country. More work also needs to be done to ensure employers are transparent about pay and progression.”
Results from the inaugural graduate outcomes survey showed that 81% of graduates were in employment or unpaid work, with 76% of those living in the UK working in highly skilled occupations. But only half of the black university graduates were in full-time employment more than a year after they left, compared with more than 60% of white students. And while only 3% of white graduates were unemployed 15 months after finishing their first degree, twice as many black graduates were, at 6%, as well as 7% of Asian graduates.
Chris Millward, of the Office for Students, the higher education regulator for England, said the more detailed responses from the data revealed that graduates felt their post-graduation work was meaningful and they were applying things they learned at university or college.
“There is clearly more still to do to ensure that these benefits are felt equally across all student groups. It is concerning that black, Asian and minority ethnic graduates were more likely to be unemployed than their white peers, and that women are over-represented in lower pay bands,” Millward said.
Thursday is the final day for this year’s university applicants to accept an offer of a place. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, many students are said to be considering deferring for a year. The Office for National Statistics said it had found that undergraduates who deferred were more likely to achieve a first-class honors degree and more likely to get better results on average than those who went straight to university from school.
A survey published by the Labour MP Afzal Khan found that 80% of pupils in England are concerned about the predicted grades they will receive this summer, with BAME students concerned that racial bias will influence the grades they are awarded in GCSEs or A-levels.
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