The gender wage gap for graduates: Who’s earning more?

by Janie Smith18 Jun 2014
Do men start earning more than their female counterparts straight out of university?

A new study by Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) of graduates who had recently completed a bachelor degree, were aged 25 or under and were in their first full-time employment, found that overall, men were earning 9.4% more than women across the board.

However, when the graduates’ chosen fields of education were factored in, the gap narrowed to 4.4%.

GCA strategy and policy advisor Bruce Guthrie told HC that the biggest gender pay gap for graduates existed for registered nurses and primary school teachers.

According to the data, males entering the workforce as registered nurses earned an average of $3,700 more than their female counterparts, while new male primary school teachers made an average of $3,200 more than female graduates in the same profession.

“These are highly aggregated figures. With nurses, there are lots of different areas of nursing that people can find themselves in and that might explain the difference in salaries there. The statistical significance here means you can assume that of the graduates going into nursing, males will receive more money than females. It’s the same with primary school teachers. There’s a real different between male and female salaries,” said Guthrie.

The overall 9.4% difference across the board reflected the choices males and females made in what they wanted to study, said Guthrie.

There was an over-representation of men in fields of education that typically had higher starting salaries, such as engineering, while women outnumbered men when it came to humanities, which was ranked at the lower end of the salary distribution.

“It might be the case that questions can be asked about how society values the jobs that the females tend to turn up in, compared with males. If nurses earn X% of what mining engineers earn, does that really reflect the value of the work nurses do, compared with mining engineers?”

When it comes to HR, the difference in pay was $2,400 in favour of female graduates, but Guthrie said the result was not considered “statistically significant”, partly because there were only 12 male HR graduates in the survey.

“If anyone’s going to be across the idea of equal pay for equal work, it’s going to be HR people,” he said.
Click here to read the full report.  


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