Male graduates’ salary expectations £12k higher than women’s, according to our research

New data from our latest research reveals the gender disparity on salary still exists among graduates entering the world of work.  Women expect to earn £25,900 in their first role, compared to men’s expected salary of £29,700 – a difference of almost £4k. And after five years, the gap widens to £12,000 between men’s and women’s expectations.

What do graduates want? Insights from tomorrow’s workforce shows that there are still marked differences between men and women as they prepare to enter the workforce. We surveyed 5,000+ Bright Network members to learn about their needs, challenges and drivers as they begin their careers.

Despite positive data indicating that females don’t feel held back by their gender when applying to graduate roles, this salary disparity exposes how ingrained pay gap expectations are in young people entering the workforce.

The report also reveals that today’s graduates are prioritising a work-life-balance over purely financial gains – the overall expected salary within five years is down £6,300 from last year,  with only 5% stating that salary is more important to them than lifestyle and job progression.

Almost all respondents (82%) expect their future employers to offer flexible working and a third spotlight flexible working as the single most important consideration when it comes to getting a good balance.

James Uffindell, Founder of Bright Network, commented: “While we know that young graduates are more purpose-driven than ever before, this year’s Bright Network report has reinforced that generation Z prioritises very differently to previous cohorts. Salary is no longer the leading priority for graduates, with most wanting flexibility, wellbeing and a balanced work-life ratio.

Priorities may be changing; however, we cannot ignore that this report spotlights a stark gender gap in salary expectations. We encourage employers to become more aware of this as both men and women progress in their careers to make sure such a gap is narrowed from the start. It will take time but addressing the foundation of this issue will have a positive knock-on effect for the future. 

Overall, this year’s research has highlighted a marked change in mentality in the future workforce and we are excited to see what this new generation brings to the working world.”

Dan Richards, UK&I Recruitment Leader at EY, commented: “It is essential that as a global business we continue to adapt our way of working, thinking and purpose, in order to meet the needs of our current and future workforce. 

Everyone is different, and we want to pave the way in spotlighting how to embrace those differences and give all our people a chance to fulfil their potential– despite gender or background. 

We must create an environment that is diverse with an inclusive culture in order to continue attracting and retaining talent. We are proud to say that we implement and revise initiatives on an ongoing basis. 

Today’s Bright Network report demonstrates that we need to listen to graduates now more than ever – embrace their new ways of thinking and adjust accordingly.”