The UK Gender Pay Gap: Differences Between Male and Female Graduate Salaries

Recently released UK government data has revealed that male and female graduates still see startling differences in salaries across the board.

The gender pay gap is alive and well with recent data from the UK government’s Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data reinforcing the seriousness of this ongoing issue.

LEO data has revealed substantial gaps between men and women based on their university degrees.

In nearly all courses in nursing, agriculture, and food, men saw higher median salaries than women after five years.

The only degree field where women saw higher median salaries than men was in English and communications and media.

History is repeating itself, ad nauseum

Unfortunately, these results closely mirror LEO data released in 2017, demonstrating the lack of improvement or progress on this issue.

In 2017, women were also seeing slightly higher median salaries in English and communications and media five years after graduation, and it was again the only area where they surpassed male salaries.

We’re also seeing reoccurring results in the field of nursing, an industry that is consistently dominated by women but still suffers from gender pay inequality.

Just one year after graduation, male nurses outperform female nurses by £2,000, with this gap leaping to £3,400 three years following graduation.

Unsurprisingly, male-dominated fields also see widening gender pay gaps with computer science boasting a £4,400 gap five years after graduation, engineering and technology a £4,300 gap, and architecture a £3,700 gap.

Wonkhe analysis noted that this graduate gender pay gap begins immediately after graduation and increases over the years, positioning women at a disadvantage from the very beginning of their careers.

It’s not just LEO data highlighting this issue

This supports analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies in 2018 which found that female graduates earned nearly 50% more than non-university educated women.

However, this income level for female graduates (an average annual salary of £30,000 by the age of 29) was comparable to that of non-university educated men who received good GCSE results.

For non-university educated women with similar GCSE results, the average annual salary was £20,800.

What can UK universities do to address this issue?

The numbers are shockingly clear; women are at a substantial financial disadvantage and it’s a systematic issue.

With more and more universities placing graduate employability and career progression as a high priority, this is an issue that can’t be ignored.

UK universities can play an important role in this environment, developing specific support services and career guidance for female students, particularly those entering male-dominated fields.

Universities and employers need to work together to address this issue and understand the factors that lead to this financial inequality, and where their respective responsibility lies.

To learn more about graduate employability and how universities are setting students up for success, download our 2019 Graduate Employability Rankings report.


About the Author:

As the B2B Content Marketing Manager, Sarah Linney is responsible for communicating the insights, research, and market analysis that have positioned QS as a thought leader in the higher education sector. After completing a Communications-Journalism degree at Charles Sturt University in Australia, Sarah worked in radio news and B2B print publishing before joining the content marketing sector. While working at a content marketing agency, Sarah was transferred to their New York office. She then led content marketing efforts at two tech startups in New York as a Content Manager before deciding to make the move to the UK and QS. 

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