Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has given some career advice to students, and particularly girls – study maths and science. But perhaps her advice should be: “Be born a man.”
The MP told the launch of the Your Life website – a campaign to encourage A-level students to study maths and science – that girls need to reject the stereotype that engineering is a male profession.
She said the gender pay gap will be addressed if women move into engineering professions. Employment lawyers ELAS said on Monday that the gender pay gap means women earn, on average, £250,000 less than their male counterparts over their lifetime.
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Data shows that men do not have to be so selective over their career choices in order to earn the big bucks.
A study by Warwick University for the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) last year collected the 2012 salaries of more than 17,000 people who graduated in 2009 and 2010.
The research shows women can expect the highest salaries two to three years after leaving university if they studied medicine and dentistry (around £31,000) or, as suggested by Ms Morgan, engineering and technologies (around £25,500).
Men, however, do not have to follow the route of maths and physics to earn more than a woman who studies engineering. On average a man will earn more than a woman who studied engineering if he studies social studies (£26,000), law (£28,000), medicine and dentistry (£34,000) and, of course, engineering (£26,000).
Women studying these subjects earn significantly less – the gap between men and women who study law is £5,000 and social studies is £3,000. Additionally, women who study mathematics and computer sciences at university can expect to earn £3,000 less than man, two to three years after graduating.
For those without degrees, the gap remains. ONS figures for 2013 show women with GCEs, A-levels or equivalent as their highest qualification earn 43 per cent less than men at the same level.
Women with GCSE grades A* to C earn 41 per cent less than men with the same qualifications. Women with no qualifications earn 42 per cent less than men with no qualifications.