UK Higher Education

CUG graduate gender pay gap analysis picked up by sector

An analysis of the Graduate Gender Pay Gap published by The Complete University Guide (CUG) last week has caught the attention of UK higher education publication, WonkHE, for its surprising insights into graduate salaries.

The major headline that WonkHE highlighted in its weekly news update was that there are still “substantial challenges for both universities and graduate recruiters when it comes to narrowing the gender pay gap”.

The content from CUG is the first Gender Pay Gap analysis of its kind of 2015 graduate data from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey. It comes at a critical time when graduate outcomes are more of a priority than ever for students who are the first to face the costly £9,000 per year tuition fees.

The data reveals the different professional paths taken by graduates from various subject backgrounds as well as the average starting salaries for graduates in professional and non-professional roles.

Another aspect of the analysis is to determine how graduate salaries have changed from 2010 to 2015 and to question whether or not a degree in specific subject areas helps students to earn more money in the job market.

Key findings

CUG found that female graduates’ average starting salaries are £1,400 less than men’s, despite the fact that they are more likely to get a 2:1.

Male graduates earn a higher starting salary in 32 out of 57 academic subjects. Of the eight subjects where women earn more, four are in engineering fields. Overall, there are only three areas where women’s earnings are over £1,000 more than men’s: General Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Technology.

What the experts say

Dr Bernard Kingston, principal author of, said that while gender equality still has some way to go, there is hope for women in certain subject fields such as STEM.

“The fact that female graduates are still being paid less than their male counterparts, even after graduating from the same subjects, suggests gender equality still has some way to go,” said Dr Kingston. “However, it is notable that the fields in which female graduates earn more than males are largely STEM subjects. The fact that the gender imbalance favours them in these areas might help to make these subjects more attractive to women.”

Read the full analysis here.

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