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Gender pay gap for graduates a 'self-fulfilling prophecy'

Last year, research revealed that on graduation women can expect to earn thousands of pounds less than men, regardless of the profession or industry. Analysts admitted being puzzled why the gender pay gap for graduates not only still persisted, despite extensive equality legislation, but is as bad now as it was in the 1990s.

'Self-fulfilling prophecy' theory

A new study has suggested one possible answer - that the pay gap is a 'self-fulfilling prophecy'.

Researchers from the University of Huddersfield Business School asked more than 1,000 UK students about their salary expectations. They found that men anticipated they would earn £23,082 a year, while women expected £21,221.

The gap widened further for student earning expectations after ten years. Men hoped to be earning £44,867 in a decade's time, but women anticipated getting £38,508.

One of the researchers said that men had a tendency 'to inflate their expectations'. But he conceded that the current pay gap meant they might be more likely to expect to be paid more than women.

He said the results demonstrated the 'danger of a self-fulfilling prophecy' as graduates came to earn what they expected.

Acas services

Men and women doing equal work or work rated as of equal value are entitled to equal pay. Acas can visit your organisation, undertake an equal pay audit, and help you to avoid using a discriminatory pay system; see Pay and reward: how Acas can help.

Acas also provides training in issues surrounding Equal pay, including how to approach job evaluations.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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