Careers Service reveals ‘gender gap’ in employment

A study conducted by Oxford University’s Careers Service has reported a significant ‘gender gap’ in the employment of university graduates six months after leaving.

The study, published this month, used data gathered from seven universities, including Oxford, and found that 90 per cent of male leavers securing graduate-level jobs six months after graduating compared with 81 per cent of female leavers. This discrepancy between men and women was also identified in terms of salaries, with the average male leaver earning £25,000 six months after leaving compared with £21,000 for women.

Jonathan Black, Director of Oxford University’s Careers Service, commissioned the research. He said: “Of all the factors we explored, gender has the biggest effect, with a statistically significant lower proportion of women than men achieving a graduate level job within six months.

“Recruiters tell us that they are keen to recruit and retain women, which made us focus our research on students’ attitudes and behaviours to see if we could learn what is causing this gap, and what programmes we might create to address the situation.”

The study found that male undergraduates tended to start thinking and acting on their career goals earlier in their education. Female undergraduates tended to focus on their academic and extra-curricular activities instead.

Research into attitudes suggested that male and female undergraduates have similar priorities when looking for a career, often citing factors such as intellectual challenge, work/life balance and location. All students, regardless of gender, gave a low priority to jobs that enabled them to have a family. However, women tended to seek out jobs that had a “worthwhile cause” at rates significantly higher than their male counterparts.

Katherine Skingsley, a 2013 History graduate from Keble, commented: “The gender bias of certain degrees is also a factor; E&M, PPE, and the sciences are male-dominated subjects, and there are many well-paid jobs in the fields that those degrees naturally feed into.”

In 2013, over 60 per cent of accepted applicants for Economics & Management and PPE undergraduate courses were male.

Skingsley added: “I also think that female graduates should be credited with more agency in their choice of career path after university. Salary is not, and should not, necessarily be the main criteria in a graduate’s chosen job path.”

Image: London Student Feminists