HR · 24 October 2018

Is “imposter syndrome” causing female graduates to ask for less pay than men?

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Research has revealed a disparity in confidence levels between the genders

Female graduates holding back from asking for as much money as their male colleagues are setting themselves up for lower pay for life, according to new findings.

New research commissioned by graduate jobs board Milkround revealed that women entering the workforce are suffering from imposter syndrome with lower salary expectations and a lack of confidence. This, it said, could be costing them their dream job and affecting their career opportunities.

The research revealed that one in three women are worried about low pay and think they’ll earn under £20,000 in an entry level role, compared to less than a quarter of their male counterparts.

Males expect to be earning more in five years’ time, with more females, 25% compared to 15% males, expecting to be on £25,000-£30,000 and more males, 23% compared to 17% females expecting to be on over £35,000 in that timeframe.

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Milkround said the difference in salary expectations indicates a disparity in confidence levels between the genders. While confidence was the top choice for respondents when asked which soft skills they believe they need to work on most to excel in their career, far more females reported a lack of confidence than males.

“Confidence issues are affecting graduates before they even hit the workforce, which often lasts with them throughout their career.  Our research shows almost half of all graduates think more self-confidence would help them with their job searches,” said Georgina Brazier, jobs expert at Milkround.

“Once employed, we find that graduates are stepping into the workforce with a preconceived idea on salary, that is connected to their self-confidence.

“While more employers are implementing mentorship programmes to alleviate imposter syndrome and boost confidence among new starters, more needs to be done to ensure that this negative mindset is reversed, before they start working their way up the career ladder.

“We encourage employers to support graduates entering the workforce though mentorship programmes. This ensures the process is clear and transparent and graduates have a clear view of their career progression.” 

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