Inequality in pay. New data suggests it’s starting young...

The Department for Education has released new data that gathers information on employment and earnings outcomes of higher education graduates by subject and institution. It’s the third in a series of releases and focuses on employment and earnings outcomes in the tax year 2014/2015, giving a detailed breakdown by institution, sex and subject group, using pay data for one, three and five years since graduation.

It’s a fascinating piece of research, but it’s not without its grey areas. Because the employment data largely covers those graduates with records submitted through PAYE, it does not collect information on the number of hours worked (and therefore whether earnings relate to part or full-time employment). Nor does it include those who are self-employed. It also fails to include mature students and doesn’t account for student ethnicity and deprivation, or for prior attainment other than A-levels for students in England. It also doesn’t adjust earning figures by location.

Yet despite this, its value more than outweighs its shortcomings. And whilst it’s just not practical to review the data in its entirety (but please feel free to peruse at your leisure, the link sits at the bottom of this article where you’ll find more on earnings by institution, and the minimum, median and maximum earnings per subject area), what we at Ri5 found of particular interest was the data that related to male/female earnings.

Of the 23 subject areas that were measured, only one showed females earnings to exceed their male counterparts within five years (with a margin 58% females to 42% males). And that subject area was English. The remaining 22 subject areas all had men out-earning the women – with 14 subject areas citing that at least 70% of the men who studied these topics earnt more than women who graduated in the same year, with degrees in the same subjects.

Veterinary Science was top of the gender gap with 100% of males earning more than the females. Nursing and Medicine & Dentistry were both at 94%; Architecture, Building and Planning sat at 90%; Engineering and Technology at 88%; Law and Computer Science both at 87%; Business & Administration Studies at 85%; Psychology at 79%; Education at 79%; Subjects allied to medicine (excluding nursing) 78%; Social studies (excluding Economics) 78%; Combined 75%; Physical Sciences 73%; Biological Sciences (excluding Psychology) 69%; Languages (excluding English Studies) 67%; Economics 66%; Agriculture & Related Subjects 62%; Mass Communications and Documentation 58%; Historical and Philosophical Studies 57%; Mathematical Sciences 54% and Creative Arts & Designs 53%.

For the most part, this earnings gap seems to relate to traditionally male dominant areas. There are a few that buck the trend, such as nursing, but – on the face of it – it’s a worrying display of inequality. It’s largely assumed that inequality in pay is attributed to females taking career breaks to raise a family. But these students are on the beginning of their career journey. So, the evidence suggests that inequality in pay starts far earlier in the career lifecycle. And with a general push to try and entice more females into the STEM areas, when faced with these statistics… it’s not much of an incentive. Let’s hope this Longitudinal Education Outcomes data might shake things up, encourage more open discussion with regards to pay and help bring about positive change.

For more information, please see

Thursday, 15 June 2017

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