Study shows graduates from more selective universities see wider gender pay gap

Devin Sean Martin

Queen's in Belfast, a member of the Russell Group of leading research-driven universities

Graduates from more selective universities in England and Northern Ireland are more likely to experience a wider gender pay gap than less selective universities, according to a new study. 

The report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) found that women who graduated from a Russel Group institution, of which Queens Univercity Belfast is a part of, earn close to 17 per cent less than their male peers.

For all other universities, the report found the gap to be only five per cent.

“This report clearly highlights how pervasive the graduate gender pay gap is,” said Rachel Hewitt, HEPI’s Director of Policy and Advocacy who co-authored the report. “Higher education provides women with an earnings premium compared to their non-graduate counterparts but, as this new analysis shows, female graduates still consistently earn less than male graduates,”

The Russel Group did not respond to The College View’s request for comment.

The study chalked up several possible reasons for the income disparity based on the study. Men tend to start their career search earlier than women, the study said, and men are more likely to seek internships during college which gives them a leg up in post-graduate employment. 

The study also noted that salary is of higher priority for men when seeking a job, where women tend to prefer job security, work-life balance, a good company culture.

HEPI made several recommendations to the Russel group and all other colleges that could help mitigate the pay gap. 

“Higher education institutions should promote information about the graduate gender pay gap, so students are empowered in their career planning to make the best decisions for their circumstances.” the study read.

It also recommended universities focus more on helping female students achieve internships.

The report instructed the Russell Group, specifically, to investigate the reasons for the exceptionally large disparity between the earnings of male and female graduates from their institutions and “take appropriate action to address that.”

“At the time of writing this report I was also a female PhD student, searching for jobs,” said co-author Bethan Cornell. “I cannot stress enough how much working on this project, and the conclusions we made, completely changed my attitude to job hunting.”

“Seeing the difference in confidence levels and values between the average male and female graduates has assured me that I have the right to be ambitious in terms of pay and that I should be more assertive in applying for higher-paid roles.”

Cornell added that she applied to a high paying job during the course of her research that she would not have considered before undertaking the project. 

Devin Sean Martin

Image Credit: Queens University