Female STEM students less optimistic about career prospects

GradAustralia's survey of Australian university students has identified differences in perceived career prospects among STEM students.
Jaymes Carr
Team GradAustralia
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While the existence of a gender pay gap across all industries has been confirmed by government agencies including the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, recent independent research by GradAustralia shows how such forms of inequality continue to impact female students and their early career expectations.

In the science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) disciplines, female students are especially likely to graduate with lower expectations than their male counterparts. For example, the GradAustralia Top 100 Graduate Employer survey found that the average salary expectation of a female STEM graduate is $63,000—or $7,000 less than male graduates from the same areas of study.

Female STEM students are slightly less likely to expect that they will have a job immediately upon graduating (15 per cent for females versus 19 per cent for males). They are also less likely to anticipate remaining with their first employer for five years or more (19 per cent for females versus 23 per cent for males).

This stands in contrast to the higher proportion of female STEM students who predict that they will graduate with grades equivalent to a Distinction or High Distinction average (63 per cent for females versus 58 per cent for males).

‘To their credit, many graduate employers in STEM have implemented policies designed to increase diversity and support female employees,’ says Geoff Adams, co-founder of GradAustralia. ‘Hopefully this shift will, in time, encourage female STEM students to expect just as much as similarly qualified males.’

The definitive list of the Top 100 Graduate Employers can be found on the GradAustralia website. 50,000 books were distributed to university students around Australia – the Top 100 Guide includes 400 pages of comprehensive employer profiles, sector information, insider tips on how to get hired as well as real-life stories from graduates on the job.