Newly qualified women get a lower starting salary than men

There is a large gap between the average first salary of newly graduated female and male BSc and MSc engineers. This is the result of IDA's salary statistics.

The average starting salary of female graduates in STEM fields is lower than the salaries of their male counterparts.

When female STEM graduates land their first job, they receive on average 574 DKK less per month than their male colleagues. This is the result of a new study based on IDA's salary statistics, based on responses from 1,377 recent graduates in STEM fields. 

If you zoom in on the specific STEM fields, the difference is greatest among MScs. Here, there is a pay gap of DKK 1,376 a month. Among Engineering BScs, average starting salaries differ by over DKK 1000 per month. 

When it comes to Engineering and IT MScs, there was no notable difference between male and female graduates in terms of average starting salaries in 2022.

Even if there is little difference in some areas, Chairman of IDA's Council of Employees, Malene Matthison-Hansen, says that the general picture is nothing to celebrate.

"It is good that the difference in starting salary has shrunk for the IT and Engineering MScs. But there are still significant differences in the men's favour among the bachelors in engineering and the natural science candidates, and also in the overall picture for our newly graduated members. In general, women enter the labour market with a salary lag and thus lower pension contributions, and we know that the bigger the salary gap at the beginning of one's working life, the harder it will be to close the gap over time," she says.

"We also know that for the members broadly there is a pay difference of around four per cent. in the men's favour, which cannot be explained on the basis of industry, seniority or educational background. There are many indications that women are generally too modest when it comes to salary negotiations. When we ask the students soon to graduate, unfortunately it also turns out that many women have much too low expectations for their starting salary," says Malene Matthison-Hansen.

She therefore encourages the new graduates to make use of all IDA's salary tools, so that you are as well prepared as possible to negotiate salary with your future employer. IDA's salary statistics and IDA's salary calculator are especially useful here.

In addition, you should also always contact the union representatives of the employer you are applying for a job with, so that you are best prepared and have a good knowledge of salary levels.

"The key word is preparation. Our legal advisers find that male graduates are very concerned about salary and the possibility of advancement, while female graduates are more focused on softer values such as well-being and the working environment. So the women actually have a healthier view of the whole job and the company they are interviewing with. But I would still encourage women to take more inspiration from men and to insist that they should be paid on a par with their male colleagues," says Malene Matthison-Hansen, who also points to openness about pay as a tool to overcome the differences.

"If we were better at talking openly about pay, and more companies also encouraged openness about pay, then that would be helpful. Fortunately, that will come soon with the recently adopted EU directive, which will require employers to be much more transparent about the salary level towards applicants. It is gratifying, because openness about pay is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to end unequal pay," says Malene Matthison-Hansen.