Female graduates expect to earn almost £4,000 less than their male peers for their first job, a survey has found.
According to a study of 5,058 university students conducted by career organisation Bright Network, women expect their first salary to average at £25,900.
Meanwhile, male graduates foresee themselves earning a salary closer to £29,700 for their first job.
This discrepancy between pay expectations appears to continue as male and female graduates imagine themselves progressing in their careers, the study showed.
Within their first five years of working, female graduates expect to reach a salary of £42,400.
Meanwhile, male graduates expect to earn a salary more than £10,000 higher by the time they’ve reached the same point in their careers, estimating an average figure of £54,200.
The survey, titled What Do Graduates Want?, found that half of women feel confident in acquiring a job after graduation, in comparison to 71 per cent of men.
When questioned over what they believe their greatest obstacle is when pursuing their chosen career, one per cent of the female participants said their gender.
The study also indicated that salary isn’t seen as a priority among a majority of graduates, with less than five per cent stating that their salary is more important than achieving an optimal work-life balance.
James Uffindell, founder of the Bright Network, explained that most graduates now place greater importance on “flexibility, wellbeing and a balanced work-life ratio”.
“Priorities may be changing; however, we cannot ignore that this report highlights a stark gender gap in salary expectations – an issue we have seen come up year after year,” Uffindell stated.
“I think this is a drip-down effect of the wider pay gap difference that exists today, altering not only expectations but hope for the younger female generation.”
Uffindell added that employers must become more aware of the disparity of salary expectations, and make greater efforts to address the “foundation of this issue” in order to have a “positive knock-on effect for the future”.
A government spokesperson stated that more work is needed by employers to combat the gender pay gap.
“We want everyone with the talent and potential, no matter their gender or background, to thrive in higher education and go on to successful careers,” the spokesperson said.
“While the gender pay gap overall is at a record low, there is clearly much further to go, and we want to see employers setting out clear action plans that will tackle their individual gaps.”
Written by Sabrina Barr @fabsab5