Stacks of coins are beside each other, gradually increasing in height. The final stack is the tallest and someone is holding a magnifying glass in front of the coins, indicating scrutiny over the gender pay gap.
Image: © jirsak/

Women graduates expect salaries up to 14pc lower than men, survey finds

9 Sep 2021

Of the 10,043 students surveyed across seven sectors, women graduates are expecting lower salaries across the board.

A new survey has found that women graduates in Ireland expect to earn up to 14pc less than their male counterparts, with the largest gap in pay expectations being seen in law.

The research was carried out by Universum, a part of the hiring platform Universum works in employer branding, a service that helps companies gather data and insights to attract and retain their desired employees.

For the study, 10,043 third-level students in Ireland were surveyed across seven different disciplines.

The greatest gap in expectations was seen in law, where men graduates expecting an average of €41,758 per year, compared to €35,730 for women. Meanwhile, business and economics, and the natural sciences both had a gap of 8pc.

Health and medical services, and IT roles both showed a gap of 7pc, while the humanities came in at 6pc. Female engineers earned €1,958 less per year than male engineers, coming in with a 5pc difference. The disparities in every sector were in favour of men.

“Graduate salary expectations are on the rise this year overall, and this will be welcome news amongst third-level students and recent graduates,” said Steve Ward, UK and Ireland business director for Universum.

“However, despite the new Government legislation due to come into effect early next year, today’s research demonstrates a clear gap in salary expectations between Irish male and female graduate,” he said, referencing the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019.

“This continued trend is very concerning. As research continuously tells us, this disparity in salary expectations between male and female graduates only becomes more pronounced as the two genders climb the career ladder and progress through the corporate world.”

There were similar results in’s survey last September.

The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill has been signed into law in July of this year. The new legislation will come into effect in January 2022 and will require companies that employ more than 250 people to publish data on differences in pay between men and women on their staff, and outline how they intend to address any disparities.

“The new gender pay legislation is a welcome step toward addressing this disparity. However, we would encourage employers to get ahead of this legislation and look at what steps they can take in the near future to ensure they’re part of the solution, and not part of the problem,” said Ward.

“This means reviewing their own internal hiring processes and remuneration data on an ongoing basis and taking a transparent and proactive approach to addressing any emerging disparities, be that gender or otherwise.”

Ward also encouraged all new, and particularly women graduates, to investigate available salaries in their field and to use to their advantage when interviewing for roles.

Updated, 10.30am, 9 September 2021: A previous version of this article said that female graduates currently earn up to 14pc less than their male counterparts. This was updated to clarify that the women graduates surveyed expect to earn up to 14pc less.

Sam Cox
By Sam Cox

Sam Cox was a sci-tech journalist with Silicon Republic in 2021. He has worked in science communication, feature writing and video journalism. In his spare time, he is an avid player of Jenga, a reader of longform non-fiction and an enthusiast of all things futuristic.

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