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Graduate salary figures – no equality here

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Last week Margaret Hodge, Equal Opp's Minister, proclaimed that the gap between men's and women's pay was narrowing. Now, a Barclays survey has shown that this is far from true for new graduates: last year women trailed men in the salary stakes by about 19 per cent (£12.201 to £14,619 on average), and the gap has actually worsened by eight percentage points since 1997.

Degree subjects show some marked differences too. In engineering - where 85 per cent of graduates are male - the average starting salary was £15,225. In female-dominated subjects such as languages (78 per cent women), the average was £10,633.

This worsening situation for women graduates is bucking the national trend. Last week's New Earnings Survey showed that the earnings gap between men's and women's salaries taken as a whole was narrowing - from 20 to 19 per cent in one year.

Still, the Higher Education Statistics Agency says reassuringly that more female than male first-degree graduates get jobs. But this says nothing about how good the jobs are: the HESA tracks graduates for six months, but does not ask about earnings.


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