During their time in Cambridge, most women start to think about their plans for the future. Many of us will find work experience, or apply for summer internships before the great job hunt of the third year finally begins. Over recent years, many graduate recruiters have recognised that a diverse workforce is a strong one, and hence promote themselves actively with female graduates – as you can see from the adverts in this guide.
Yet although the vast majority of men and women now expect a woman with the same qualifications to have the same earning potential, research suggests that women can still expect to earn 15% less than a man with the same degree within three years of graduation and that two thirds of women in work would have chosen a different career path, had they known of the pay differences between jobs generally occupied by men, and the sectors often dominated by women. As a Women’s Union, we need to campaign to end the pay gap and also provide women with practical career’s support and advice. By organising seminars with companies from different employment sectors and taking full advantage of contacts with national businesses, campaigning bodies and trade unions – it is hoped that the Women’s Union will be a great practical aid to Women as they think about career’s paths throughout their time in Cambridge, and look to life beyond.
There is also the Springboard campaign for female students to take advantage of, and the Careers Service which offers free advice to all students, even after graduation.
In terms of the pay gap inside Cambridge: the University and College Union report “Gender Pay Gaps and Higher Educational Institutions” reports that Russel Group Universities (older and larger research intensive universities, of which Cambridge is one) have the highest pay gap out of academic institutions. This gap stands at 18.5%: higher than the national pay gap between full-time working men and full-time working women. This means that in all likelihood, Cambridge University has one of the worst pay gaps in the country for higher education institutions.
Read the full “Gender Pay Gaps and Higher Educational Institutions” report.
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The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the leading government agency working to eliminate discrimination in 21st Century Britain. The Equal Opportunities Commission (addressing sex discrimination), the Commission for Racial Equality, and the Disability Rights Commission merged in 2007 to create the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Through its work, the Commission challenges the misconception that women and men today get an equal deal, and work towards a society in which women and men have equal chances in life.
The Commission’s work is currently focused on equal pay campaigns, raising awareness of the gender gap and working towards a fairer system. A study carried out for the Equal Opportunities Commission found that awareness of the gap between women’s and men’s pay was low among students. Most expect to be earning the same in five and ten years as members of the opposite sex. In reality, a woman who graduated in 2006 can expect to be earning 15% less by 2009 than a man who graduated at the same time.
The Commission estimates that the pay gap currently stands at 17% across all sectors. Research suggests a gap exists even when women and men have studied the same subject, achieved the same class of degree or work in the same occupations or industries.
Employers don’t often set out to cheat women, but millions of women fall into the gender pay gap every day. The causes of sex bias in pay arrangements are not always obvious, which is why the work of the EOC with employees and employers is vital. Thirty years since the Equal Pay Act gave women in Britain the right to equal pay, we are still far from achieving equality.
The Women’s Union works with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to raise awareness of employment based discrimination, campaign against the pay gap and to provide women with the information they need as they enter the workplace.
The Fawcett Society- one of the leading organisations for women’s rights in the UK, heads several campaigns on the wage gap. Their Campaign for Equal Pay highlights the persistence of the pay gap, and coordinates national agitation for change.