Based on over 15,000 students nationwide, the study was carried out to show employers how to appeal to both sexes. The results were perhaps unsurprisingly conventional, with four main differences highlighted between men and women.
Male students were shown to expect more from their starting wage, on average projecting a salary of £2,320 per month compared to women’s hopes for £1,980.
This could be down to the industries that men and women see themselves working in. Female students showed a preference for industries with a creative or humanist focus, such as media and advertising or education and research.
Meanwhile, men had a clear financial and practical focus, aspiring to work in banking, engineering and manufacturing industries.
In the same vein, male participants showed a preference for macro employers with a competitive approach, allowing them to move up the ranks quickly and have a high level of responsibility. Women were more interested in medium-sized organisations who take on a workforce of 100-500. They looked for strong ethical values, travel opportunities and a strong employer/employee relationship that will lead to good references in the future.
The mentality between the two demographics reflects these preferences: men tended to see themselves as “careerists”, leaning towards practical achievements, whereas women were “idealists”, with a desire to “serve a greater good”.
One psychology graduate Kirst White, 22, spoke about her pursuit of a career in teaching, in the light of securing a job as a secondary school teaching assistant.
“The salary wasn't great – just enough to get by – but it was an invaluable taster of what I could do as a full-time career in the future, and offered me vital experience.”
White had a clear view to finding emotional wellbeing in her career: “I loved being able to incorporate techniques from my degree into my work, which made me want to go back to University to actually train to be a teacher and teach my subject.”
Meanwhile, economics graduate Theodora Blakely, 21, from Exeter University deviates from the research findings.
“I only looked at larger companies as they offered the best, most established graduate programmes. I was only interested in finance-based jobs because the salary is considerably higher than others such as marketing – I was expecting a wage of over £2000 per month.”
This could indicate that students’ career aspirations are influenced more heavily by their courses rather than by whether the student is male or female, as different degree programmes favour different future careers.
Blakely pointed out that it is more unusual for a female to take single honours economics: “I think that about 20 per cent of us were girls, and I know that my male friends were aiming for jobs with a wage of £30,000 plus, in banking and finance.”
It seems those labels of practicality and emotionality, which have a tendency to be attributed to men and women respectively, also hold true in the workplace. However, perhaps this trend finds its roots in the career values proffered by the degree courses themselves, rather than solely in the sex of the student.