Students urged to demand pay parity for men and women

May 10, 2002

Women graduates earn 15 per cent less than men before they reach the age of 24, according to a joint campaign from the National Union of Students and the Equal Opportunities Commission.

The "15 per cent off" campaign will encourage students to ask prospective employers to demonstrate fair pay. Julie Mellor, chair of the EOC, said:

"Many students now leave college with large debts that it will take them years to pay off. That burden will be even greater on women if they are earning less than men. For many it will mark the beginning of a lifetime of financial inequality."

A spokeswomen for the NUS said: "Information and posters have been sent to every student union in the country. Women are getting more confident about asking about childcare provision and flexible hours. They also need to address the pay gap."

The campaign is backed by early findings from EOC research that show that the pay gap gets wider with age. A gap exists even when women and men have studied the same subject, achieved the same class degree and work in the same occupation or industry.

The EOC is conducting research into the pay gap as part of its "Valuing Women" campaign launched in 1999. Full findings will be published later this year.

EOC research on "Attitudes to Equal Pay" included a survey of 340 students in Cardiff, Edinburgh and London in March 2002. It showed widespread ignorance among students about the pay gap - 53 per cent of respondents thought that there would be no difference in pay for male and female graduates entering the same job.

But women were more likely than men to believe there would be a difference in promotion prospects - 29 per cent of women, compared with 18 per cent of men.

Nearly half of all students said a commitment to equal pay would influence their choice of job.

NUS president Owain James said: "It is time to make sure that employers respond to the EOC campaign."

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