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Graduate gender pay gap hasn't improved since the 1990s

A pay gap is persisting between male and female graduates and shows no sign of having improved since the 1990s.

This is the conclusion of analysis undertaken by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit into the early career outcomes of a large cohort of students who applied to university in 2005/06.

The research found that the gender distribution of graduate earnings was 'strikingly uneven', with women more likely to figure at the lower end of the salary scale. Above a starting salary of £24,000, men were consistently more likely to be earning in higher numbers than women.

It's well documented that some professions command higher starting salaries than others, and that men and women tend to study different subjects in higher education. For example, more men go into engineering, maths and computing courses, while women favour biology, veterinary science, creative arts and design.

But researchers said that the pay gap could not be sufficiently explained by differences between sectors and labour market demand for skills. They found that male average earnings were higher than female across all subjects, even where women's representation in subjects far exceeded men's. Law graduates showed a particularly marked gender pay gap, even though there were similar numbers of men and women graduating in law.

The figures were also broken down by industrial sector and by the public and private split, but the male lead in earnings persisted. The only area where women graduates' pay was broadly level with men's was in the not-for-profit sector.

Men and women doing equal work or work rated as of equal value are entitled to equal pay. Acas can help your organisation undertake an equal pay audit and avoid operating a discriminatory pay system. Acas also provides training in issues surrounding Equal pay, including how to approach job evaluations.

Visit Pay and reward: how Acas can help in the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

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