Are women underselling themselves on salaries?

Worrying figures show that the gender pay gap could be extending rather than closing, with female graduates expecting to earn between six and ten percent less than their male peers.

Female graduates in Ireland expect to earn up to ten percent less than their male peers, according to new 2019 global talent market research by Irishjobs.ie in partnership with employer brand specialist, Universum.

The research surveyed 10,994 graduates across engineering, IT, business, economics and natural sciences, along with health and medicine, drawn from 25 different Irish education institutions.

Engineering and IT, or STEM graduates have the highest starting salary expectations amongst those surveyed, considering €35,951 per annum to be an appropriate starting salary for their skillset.

“It is very concerning to see that the gap is actually growing rather than shrinking”

Within this, males expect a starting salary of €37,404, meanwhile females expect €33,543 per annum. This equates to a ten percent or €3,861 disparity between the two genders.

The research implies that the gender wage gap is actually growing rather than shrinking. Universum’s 2018 research showed an eight percent or €2,859 disparity between wage expectations amongst the two genders, with males on average expecting a €34,363 starting salary, versus females looking for €31,504 per annum.

“From day one, males immediately expect a starting salary of between six and ten percent higher than their female peers”

The gap between male and female business graduates is slightly less, with males expecting €35,564 per annum versus females expecting €33,426, which roughly translates as a six percent difference. Salary expectations continue to grow year-on-year across professions such as financial services, banking, management consulting, audit and accounting and media and advertising. In 2018, male starting salary expectations were €32,550 and female expectations were €30,600.

Graduates of natural sciences and medicine degrees typically enter the jobs market with lower salary expectations, with graduates in this area expecting an average of €34,729.

Female graduates of natural sciences expect six percent (€2,273) lower salaries than their male peers compared to a pay gap of two percent (€544) between graduates in health and medicine.

“Critical to this is ensuring that female graduates feel educated and empowered to negotiate salaries on a par with their male peers”

According to Dress for Success Dublin (DfSD), the charity behind the #WorkEqual campaign, today marks the date which women effectively stop earning for the rest of the year, because of the gender pay gap.

Speaking about the issue, Orla Moran, general manager of IrishJobs.ie said; “Gender pay disparity has come into particular focus in the last 24 months and despite the increased scrutiny, it is very concerning to see that the gap is actually growing rather than shrinking.

“Universum’s 2019 research suggests this gender salary disparity is evident before graduates even enter the working world. From day one, males immediately expect a starting salary of between six and ten percent higher than their female peers. This is particularly apparent in STEM careers, despite the significant resources and energies currently invested in attracting more females into careers in IT and engineering.

Ms Moran believes more needs to be done to empower women to strive for higher salaries, and one area to address could be teaching more women the power of negotiating.

“Clearly, more work needs to be done to address gender pay disparities. Critical to this is ensuring that female graduates feel educated and empowered to negotiate salaries on a par with their male peers as they embark on the first rung on the career ladder. While this responsibility doesn’t sit with any single entity, we all have a responsibility to ensure that this gap in salary expectations is shrinking, and not growing, when we revisit this data in 12 months’ time,” she finished.    

Looking beyond salary expectations, Universum’s research also reflects the other motivating factors for Irish graduates, with a friendly work environment and innovation being the two biggest factors.

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 11 November, 2019