The outlook for women in the workplace

Today is the centenary of International Women’s Day. Not surprisingly, many commentators point out that women throughout the world still don’t enjoy equality. So how does the picture look in Ireland?

The think-tank TASC has carried out research showing that women still earn substantially less than men. In 2008, just over half of women – 50.3 per cent – had an annual income of less than €20,000. The corresponding figure for men was 37.7 per cent. In contrast, nearly one in five men – or 19.6 per cent – earned over €50,000; the corresponding figure for women was just 10.7 per cent.

The picture for graduates also shows gender disparity. The most recent HEA report on graduate destination statistics What do Graduates do? The Class of 2008 states: ‘Despite higher academic achievement by females entering the workplace, a gender bias in salary awards in favour of males persists.’ They report that women graduates are more likely than men to earn lower initial salaries, and that men dominate the higher salary brackets.

But is this reflected in the aspirations of current undergraduates? The most recent data is available in a survey of undergraduates carried out for gradireland by German research institute trendence. And there are some interesting gender differences.

  • The most popular choice of employer for men is Google; for women the most popular destination is teaching.
  • 26 per cent of men surveyed expected to earn more than €34,000 in their first job after graduation, compared to only 17 per cent of women.
  • When asked ‘What is important for your first professional position after graduation?’, women ranked work/life balance and job security highest; men were more interested in training. Men were also prepared to work longer hours.

But the really interesting question is how respondents view their own abilities. In answer to the question: ‘How would you describe your academic achievements?’ 70 per cent of males answered ‘outstanding’ or ‘above average’; compared to only 63 per cent of women . Compare this to the HEA report of ‘higher academic achievement by females’!
This lack of confidence in women is reflected in research published today by Accenture. In an international survey of business professionals, they found that women were less likely than men to have asked for pay raises (44 per cent versus 48 per cent) and promotions (28 per cent versus 39 per cent). And – possibly as a result – more women report that their careers are not fast tracked (63 per cent of women versus 55 per cent of men).

One Comment on “The outlook for women in the workplace”

  1. Over in the US I read that women are paid something like 21% less than men directly out of college.

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