Gender pay gap concept cartoon with different people standing on stacks of coins of varying heights.
Image: © Angelina Bambina/

Female students have lower earnings expectations, except in tech

5 Sep 2023

The engineering sector did not yield a significant pay gap between men and women, with men expecting to earn €41,719 and women looking for earnings of €41,698.

A recent poll of more than 8,000 Irish students revealed that although on average women expect to earn 11pc less than men expect to earn, the gap is far less in the tech and engineering sectors.

Universum, which is part of the Irish Jobs group, surveyed students in a variety of university programmes from STEM to humanities to find out what they expect from employers. The survey results informed the fifth edition of the Most Attractive Employers Index Ireland.

While the male respondents said they expect to earn €40,441 in their first full-time job after graduation, women said that they expect to earn €35,891, an average gap of approximately 11pc. This is the first time the expectation gap has increased since 2020.

Sector-by-sector, women tech students expect to earn 9pc less than their male counterparts. Male tech students expect to earn €41,989 while women are looking for a starting salary of €38,240. The engineering sector did not yield a significant pay gap between men and women, with men expecting to earn €41,719 and women looking for earnings of €41,698.

Commenting on the results of the poll and the increase in the overall gender pay gap, Steve Ward, UK and Ireland business director at Universum, said that “more work needs to be undertaken by employers to address this issue and achieve greater pay parity”.

He added that the poll showed that men and women students tended to have different expectations and needs for their future careers. Men tended to value financial compensation while women tended to value job security and a friendly working environment. But overall, high future earnings and job security were the top two things on average that students wanted from their future jobs.

“The next generation of graduates is joining a strong jobs market, with the unemployment rate close to a historic low,” said Ward. “In this context, it is unsurprising to see high earnings as the top preference for graduates once again. A rising cost of living indicates that the next generation of graduates are prioritising future financial income, while the tight labour market offers a constructive environment to achieve progress on this ambition.”

Three quarters of those surveyed said they were interested in remote working opportunities, which is a 4pc increase on the same stat from last year. Ward said that companies hiring for graduate programmes should be conscious of the needs of the current cohort of graduates to compete effectively for the best talent.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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