Women who study business ‘earn less than men’

The careers of women and people from ethnic minorities who have taken business studies degrees lag behind their white male equivalents, a new study has found.

The careers of women and people from ethnic minorities who have taken business studies degrees lag behind their white male equivalents, a new study has found.
Dr Nick Wilton, of the University of West of England, studied questionnaire responses by 1016 people who graduated with first degrees in business studies or management from UK universities in 1999.
In 2003 they gave their assessment of how useful their degree had been in their career and how their careers were progressing four years after graduation.
Dr Wilton, whose research is presented in the journal Work, Employment and Society, published today [April 1] by the British Sociological Association and SAGE, found business studies and management degrees did not benefit women as much as men – by 2003 women graduates in full-time employment reported that they earned around £3,400 less than men, a 15 per cent gap.
This was partly because more women worked in the lower-paid public sector, but even in careers where there were equal numbers of both sexes, women earned less. The research also showed that women put as great a value on earnings as men, so their attitudes to the job did not account for the disparity.
Only a quarter of women were in managerial posts, compared with over a third of men, and 24 per cent of women were in non-graduate jobs, compared with 17 per cent of men.
Minority ethnic graduates reported that in their jobs in 2003 they earned an average of around £22,000, compared with almost £27,000 reported by white business studies and or management graduates.
Only 11 per cent reported being very satisfied with their careers, compared with 26 per cent of white graduates. Only 44 per cent of minority ethnic graduates were in a job requiring a degree, compared with 63 per cent of white graduates.
Dr Wilton also found that graduates from older universities, which have a higher proportion of middle-class students, had salaries averaging £29,000, compared with £25,400 for those from newer universities. Newer university graduates were more than twice as likely to be in non-graduate jobs as were those from older universities.
The relative lack of success in their early careers of women, ethnic minority graduates and working-class graduates came despite the fact that on average all reported that their degrees had developed skills such as communication, leadership and problem-solving to a higher level than did white male middle-class graduates.
In his paper, entitled ‘Do employability skills really matter in the UK graduate labour market? The case of business and management graduates’, Dr Wilton says that the research calls into question the idea that higher education can create a more equal labour market simply by seeking to develop in students the skills that employers often claim are in short supply among new graduates.
“This evidence suggests that the entrenched proclivity for particular types of graduates in the labour market still appears to represent a considerable obstacle for the ‘new’ graduate labour supply, even where graduates report the development of the skills often demanded by employers,” he writes.
“This was particularly apparent in the cases of female and minority ethnic graduates and those who study at a new university, where the contrast between reported employability development and employment outcomes was most marked.
“The data suggest that the development of employability skills in higher education appears far from a panacea for unequal labour market opportunity.
“These findings, therefore, raise important concerns about the efficacy of the policy focus on the explicit development of employability skills as an effective means to address social group disadvantage in the graduate labour market.”  

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