Source: The Mercury, 16 December, 1998, p.25
THE initial salaries of female university gradu- ates are increasing faster than they are for men. For the second year in a row, growth in women's start- ing salaries has outstripped growth in salaries for male graduates with a rise of $1500 this year compared with $1000 for men, a new study has found. But the Graduate Careers Council of Australia says women are still lagging be- hind because men dominate the high-paying careers such as dentistry and medicine. Of more encouragement for graduates, council executive director Roger Bartley said the study found the decline in graduate starting salaries which began in the late 1980s, had abated. Mr Bartley said there was also evidence that the job market for graduates had strengthened since a slump in demand in the early 1990s. The median starting salary for graduates in all disci- plines was $30,000 compared with average earnings of $37,200 for the rest of the workforce. Male graduates earned 83.3% of average earnings in their first job while women earned 80.6%. Mr Bartley said: "Starting salaries for female graduates rose by $1500 or 5.3% and salaries for females have grown at a greater rate than those for men over the past two years. "Males tend to have en- rolled in the more highly paying fields of study while females tended to come from the middle and lower-paying fields." The study is the result of a survey of graduates who went into the workforce at the end of last year from universities across Australia. It found that men were nearly four times as likely to be graduates in the five best- paying fields - dentistry medicine, optometry, earth sciences and engineering. Medical graduates and vet- erinary science, nursing, law, mining engineering and den- tistry graduates had the greatest chance of finding full-time work within four months of leaving university. Full-time work was harder to be found by those who studied visual and perform- ing arts, psychology, social sciences and life sciences. They were more likely to work part-time or casually while seeking full-time work. Mr Bartley said university graduates still had the lowest unemployment rates when compared with the national jobless rate of 8%. Only 3.5% of those who earned bachelor degrees were unemployed this year while higher-degree graduates had a jobless rate of only 2.6%. Overall, 79.6% of gradu- ates were in full-time jobs within four months of finish- ing their courses at the end of last year. Mr Bartley said there was very little difference between the ability of male graduates to find work compared with female graduates.
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