New research from job search site totaljobs shows that the gender pay gap in Britain exists even before people have entered the job market.
The company analysed data on the CVs and job applications of around 56,000 British graduates and found that female graduates apply for jobs that pay on average £2,000 ($US3,077) less per year than positions applied for by their male counterparts.
The findings were true across all degree subjects, with no single area where female graduates expect to earn more than men.
Some of the biggest discrepancies were in humanities and social science graduates. For example, whilst male social science graduates apply for jobs paying an average of £26,503 ($US40,500), jobs applied for by female graduates on average pay £24,585 ($US37,600), a difference of £1,918 ($US2,930).
The study seems to suggest that regardless of the attitudes of employers — who have been required by law to pay all employees equally since the Equal Pay Act in 1970 — there is still a deeper psychological problem when it comes to the ambitions of female employees.
Dr. Stephen Law, a philosophy professor at the University of London, said in an emailed statement: “Even if employers did not discriminate unfairly against women, women might well still end up paid less well as a consequence of their own comparatively more modest ambitions. Perhaps society should make a conscious effort to encourage young women to aim higher.”
The Fawcett Society’s most recent estimate puts the pay gap in the UK at 19.1%, and in October, data showed that there are only three areas in the entirety of Europe where women earn more than men on average — two parts of Poland, along with southern Italy.
Anna Ritchie Allan, from Close the Gap — an organisation which concentrates on addressing the gender pay gap — argues that for things to change, greater structural change is needed to ensure that men and women are both aiming for the same jobs, with the same level of pay.
She says in an emailed statement: “Solutions that focus on building young women’s aspirations and confidence fail to address the structural barriers that women face in the labour market such as stereotyping about men’s and women’s skills and capabilities, inflexible working practices, and discrimination in pay systems.”