Women graduates expect to earn as much as 14% less than men

Male graduates had higher expected rates of pay, with gap widest in law, Universum finds

Irish male graduates have higher salary expectations than their female counterparts, according to research by Universum, part of recruitment company IrishJobs.

The salaries that female graduates surveyed said they expected to earn in their first job after graduation were up to 14 per cent lower than the salaries male graduates believe they will be paid.

The 14 per cent disparity was found in the case of law graduates. Among business and economics students, female graduates cited a salary figure that was 8 per cent lower than the expectations of the male graduates surveyed, while the same gap existed for graduates of natural sciences.

In both IT and the health and medical sectors, the gap was 7 per cent.

This research was conducted among 10,043 students across business, IT, health, engineering, natural sciences, humanities, law and health in the Republic from October 2020 to March 2021.

Larger Irish employers will soon be required to publish their gender salary data under recently passed legislation, prompting greater focus than ever on how companies pay their staff, how they value or fail to value certain roles and whether they offer the same level of promotion opportunities to women as they do to men.

In Universum’s survey, law graduates had the highest starting salary expectations overall, expecting to earn €38,702 in their first job, with male graduates expecting €41,758 and female graduates expecting €35,730.

Law was also the only discipline to see the gap in gender pay expectations grow year-on-year, with a 12 per cent disparity found in the previous year’s research.

‘Concerning’ trend

"This continued trend is very concerning. As research continuously tells us, this disparity in salary expectations between male and female graduates only becomes more pronounced as the two genders climb the career ladder and progress through the corporate world," said Steve Ward, Universum UK and Ireland business director.

“The new gender pay legislation is a welcome step toward addressing this disparity. However, we would encourage employers to get ahead of this legislation and look at what steps they can take in the near future to ensure they’re part of the solution, and not part of the problem.”

Employers should review their own internal hiring processes and remuneration data on an ongoing basis and take “a transparent and proactive approach” to addressing any emerging disparities, Mr Ward said.

“Equally, we would encourage recent graduates, and particularly female graduates, to undertake meaningful research into the available salaries in their field and where possible, to then use this research to their advantage when interviewing for roles.”

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics