Widening Salary Gap for Female Graduates


According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, latest gender data suggests that the pay gap between female and male university graduates last year more than doubled – increasing from $2000 to $5000 a year.

The 2012 GradStats report produced by Graduate Careers Australia allegedly shows median full-time employment starting salaries for men  are $55,000 (up from $52,000 in 2011), compared to $50,000 for female graduates (no change from 2011). The current graduate gender pay gap across all occupations stands at 9.1%.

Recent school leavers may be dismayed as they consider their futures while waiting for university offers for 2013 places.

Research Executive Manager at the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Dr Carla Harris said ‘It is very disturbing that men’s starting salaries have increased over the past year but those of women have not, especially given that women make up the majority of university graduates.

“The lesson here is that the gender pay gap continues to have a very real impact on the bank balance of young women starting their careers.”

The gender pay gap for graduates was most noticeable in occupational areas such as: architecture and building (17.3%, $9,000 difference); dentistry (15.7%, $14,400 difference); optometry (8.5%, $7,000 difference) and law (7.8%, $4,300 difference). All traditionally male dominated fields.

“I’m certain that any female school leaver contemplating a career in dentistry, would be outraged knowing she can expect to earn more than $14,000 less than a man in her first year on the job,” Dr Harris said.

Amongst the results, there are seven out of 23 occupations where female graduates earn a little more than their male counterparts. Female computer scientists, earth scientists, pharmacists and engineers are amongst those who earn more than male graduates.

Just three occupational categories had no gender pay gap at all in starting salaries. These were education, humanities and medicine.

Did the WGEA jump the gun?

In reply, the Graduate Skills Council state that the report findings were misrepresented and the report in fact demonstrates that there has been no change in the gender pay gap – it remains at 3%. However, the GCA did say “I think it’s really unlikely there is any responsible graduate recruiter who is paying a different salary to males and females”.

A deeper look into the data is on the cards to assess the real story here.