Graduate ambitions still defined by sex

Despite all the movements for sexual equality and fairer opportunities for women in the work place, recent research carried out by Target Jobs has shown that to a large extent, graduate ambitions are still heavily influenced by an applicant’s sex. The research lists the companies that graduates most want to work for, and comparisons between the most highly desirable companies for men and those for women makes for interesting reading.

Whilst some powerhouse companies feature in the top 10 for both sexes, PricewaterhouseCoopers, GlaxoSmithKline, and Deloitte, for example, there are a number of significant differences. A cursory glance over the top 10 list for women graduates shows that in 2nd and 3rd place respectively comes Teach First – the charity that fast-tracks graduates into teaching – and the NHS Graduate Scheme; however, these don’t appear in the men’s list until much later, coming in 33rd and 34th respectively. Instead, the men’s top 10 is crowded with technology firms such as IBM and Apple, that don’t even appear in the top 20 for women.

Furthermore, the charitable components of the women’s list makes up a fifth of all the companies they desire to work for, but on the men’s side, charity organisations make up just 5% of the companies on the list.

Steve James of Target Jobs noted that “Men show a bias towards science and IT-based professions, whereas women are much more into the public sector.” The research therefore seems to suggest that even after graduation, women retain something of a nurturing instinct with regards to the types of careers they pursue, while the majority of men are still most tempted by industry and money.

The Student Room’s Jamie O’Connell suggests this could be due to the fact that the number of girls studying STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is much lower than that of boys, even at school ages when subject options are offered. He said “Women still make up only 15% of engineering, and 38% of mathematical science, students. New approaches are needed to encourage girls into science, technology and maths, as clearly efforts so far haven’t had an impact.” The implication is that only when there is a more even ratio of girls to boys in these subjects will graduate ambitions lose these differences.

Read the Guardian article Graduate Preferences Remain Gender Oriented.

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