Our latest research report which looks at what over 3000+ Bright Network members think about future reveals a startling gap between the career expectations and experiences of men and women, even as early as their first year of university.

The survey of more than 3000 students studying at universities across the UK reveals that men are 45% more confident than women about securing a role after they graduate.

Male undergraduates expect a starting salary of £29,279, whereas women expect £25,832. When asked about their salary expectations for five years after they graduate, the gap widens further, with women expecting an annual salary of £47,492 and men £60,521 – a huge 27% difference.

What’s more, men are 40% more likely than women to state that five years after graduating they will be earning a ‘lot of money’ and 38% more likely to want to be in a leadership position. Women are 19% more likely to state that having a work/life balance is a key indicator of success.

When it comes to rating their skills, on average men score themselves more highly than women. They place their ability to problem-solve at the top of their skills list, whereas women score themselves more highly on communication, organisation and time management – skills that are more traditionally associated with women.

They are 18% more worried than their male peers about the levels of graduate debt they will have after university – which might explain why female students are 40% more likely than their male counterparts to undertake part-time work during term time.

“Male undergraduates expect a starting salary of £29,279, whereas women expect £25,832.”

‘’The disparity between the career concerns and expectations between female and male undergraduates is stark” says James Uffindell, Founder & CEO Bright Network. 

”We’re talking about bright, ambitious talented young women here – highly capable individuals who can offer so much to the workplace. Sadly, some of the results are understandable when you consider that young women today are still receiving ingrained, discriminate sexist careers advice – that serves to undermine them and their ambitions.’’

Indeed, one female student was told that she could not become a lawyer whilst wearing a headscarf, another that she shouldn’t take up a role that’s too time-consuming so that she has more time for family later in life.

One undergraduate was told to rethink her plans to study science as she would struggle to gain respect as a woman in the sector and another was advised to wear heels to her interviews with law firms, because ‘she is a woman’. One student was told that, as women are best-suited to being teachers, that’s the route she should follow.

When it comes to their background, women are 23% more likely than men to feel that it has hindered them in an application process for work or study and are 56% more likely than their male peers to abandon an application because they have lost confidence in their ability to get the role.

Uffindell concludes;

“The fact that women are grappling with some of the concerns and gender dynamics that women have faced for generations is a major cause for concern and shows just how much more work there is to be done to improve and fundamentally change things.”

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