Gender Gap Determined at Uni - Study
23 June 2014 at 10:45 am
New research suggests that the earnings gap between new male and female graduates is determined by the education field choices made prior to university enrollment.
The latest Graduate Careers Australia’s (GCA) study, which investigated the gender wage gap within the 2013 Australian graduate labour market, was based on data collected from GCA’s annual Graduate Destination Survey (GDS1), which gathers employment outcomes data from recent graduates of all Australian universities, as well as a number of non-university higher education providers.
GCA said major findings from the analysis suggested that when the field of education, personal, enrolment and occupational characteristics of male and female graduates were taken into account, overall males’ starting salaries were 4.4 per cent higher than those for females.
The study said that later earnings potential were driven by many factors.
“The analysis highlighted the overall wage gap favouring males as being due, in part, to an over-representation of males in fields of education that typically had higher starting salaries, such as Engineering,” GCA said.
It said alternatively, females outnumbered males when it came to Humanities, which was ranked at the lower end of the salary distribution.
GCA Research Associate and principal author of the study, Edwina Lindsay, said while some of the 4.4 per cent gender wage gap might potentially be explained by inequalities in some workplaces, it could also likely be explained if additional information not captured within the GDS was available.
Lindsay noted that in the later years of females’ careers, males’ earnings could grow at a greater rate.
She said while these later salary differences could be related to field of education choices, many factors unrelated to the graduate’s university years, such as age and experience, came into play.
Lindsay also said that when occupational outcomes for recent male and female graduates were compared, few significant differences were found.
“When 22 of the most common occupations entered by new graduates were examined, only the salaries for registered nurses and primary school teachers were found to differ significantly, in favour of males,” she said.
“Before controlling for these key earnings determinants, an aggregate gender wage gap of 9.4 per cent was found and the report suggests that this aggregate gap could be narrowed if females were given more information about career choices and opportunities at school with encouragement to consider training for occupations that are often traditionally thought of as male roles.
“These included training and occupations in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (often referred to as STEM subjects).
“These figures were based on the responses of new bachelor degree graduates aged less than 25 and in their first full-time employment in Australia and, as such, are not necessarily representative of the wider Australian workforce.”
To view the full report, click here.