Oxford University Finds Significant Gender Gap in Students’ Post-Graduate Job Prospects
I’ve included this picture of Hermione Granger because not only was these scene probably filmed at Oxford, but her little unimpressed face perfectly captures how I feel about this survey’s findings.
A recent study conducted by Oxford University Careers Services looked at data originally compiled by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2013, which polled 17,000 different students from Oxford University, Cambridge University, Imperial University, The London School of Economics, UCL, Durham University and the University of Bristol. Their finding? No surprise, the biggest determining factor for how a student’s career and salary pans out six months after they’ve finished their education is their gender.
Six months after graduating, the female graduates polled were only 81% likely to have found a graduate-level job compared to 90% for their male counterpart; their average salary six was also lower as well, at £21,000 ($31842.30 USD) for women compared to £25,000 ($37907.50) for men. More distressing than the economic gap, however, is how students’ confidence in themselves broke down along gender lines. According to the study, male undergraduates tended to start thinking about and acting on their career goals much earlier than women, who were more likely to concentrate on academics and extracurricular activities instead. Women were also less likely to approach potential employers and recruiters than men, who on average were more willing to take the initiative.
But that’s not all! These differences in confidence start fairly early in a student’s career, according to another survey that Career Services conducted with the help of 3,200 sixth-form students (that’s kids from the ages of 16 to 18) from across 42 different state and independent schools. Girls in this age range were significantly less likely to be confident when answering questions about their future job prospects, and also were more likely to rate lifestyle factors as influential in how they decided upon a career—specifically, they were much more interested in jobs that they could feel good about performing, or that “serve the greater good.” The greater good. Err, sorry. Couldn’t resist.
But Jonathan Black, director of Oxford University’s Careers Service, has a plan for addressing these imbalances—by working with the Girls’ School Association and creating programs that will help girls at younger ages learn “to build and practice confidence, leading in later years to short modules focused on career, negotiating, assertiveness and marketing themes.” He added that they hope to extend this research and the resulting pilot programs to as many schools as possible.
“It is a real pleasure to see the Oxford University Careers Service taking a lead in this important area,” Girls’ Schools Association chairperson Alice Phillips also noted in the press statement. “This is a marked difference in approach from the careers’ guidance that was available to many of us in the past at our universities. Women represent half the potential work force and need to be helped not only to have the confidence to gain that representation but to maintain it over time, to the tops of their professions.”