The gender pay gap starts at university

‘It’s sad to hear that female students are undervaluing themselves’


New research has shown that the gender pay gap doesn’t start when we go into the world of work, it starts at university. Or so women think.

According to the National Student Money Survey 2016, women believe they will earn £3.3k less annually than men and on average give themselves a 14 per cent pay cut when asked to predict their starting salary.

Of all the 2,217 students asked, both male and female students undervalued what their starting salary would be, but women underestimated by a larger extent, while men seemed to be very assured of employment after university. In reality, men are more likely to be unemployed when leaving university, say the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Save the Student recently carried out a survey that suggests men stress less about money, and believe that finding work after university will be easy. This could be the reason why many female undergrads think they will be paid less.

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However, according to the same agencies who conducted this survey, women hold the majority of university places, get better grades and are more likely to be in work six months after graduation than men. So there has to be another underlying problem if these really encouraging statistics are not getting through to women, but it is unclear what that is exactly.

Save the Student’s Editor, Jake Butler, said: “It’s sad to hear that female students are undervaluing themselves in comparison to their male counterparts. The employment stats for graduates tend to be stronger for women so why is it that they lack the belief? It’s an important issue that needs addressing so that female graduates can start to smash the gender equality barriers.

“It’s a wider concern that male students are also undervaluing themselves. Students across the board are starting to really question the value of their degree in terms of securing top level graduate employment, all against the backdrop of tuition fees increasing yet again.”

This is clearly damaging for many women. Going into the workplace believing you’re not as good as your male colleague, or not as worthy, will surely mean that you become that. In truth, women can perform just as well as men, if not better.

If this research shows anything, it shows that sexism is still rife in every walk of life, and illustrates the danger of internalised sexism. Despite the fact that women clearly can be more successful than men, we still put ourselves down because something in society is telling us we can’t be equal.