For women and men, desire and reality diverge when it comes to starting salary

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In the run-up to a job interview, there is one aspect that goes through the heads of university graduates particularly strongly: the starting salary. As a new study shows, women and men approach this topic in different ways.


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As part of this study, StepStone compared the salary expectations of 47,000 graduates with the current starting salaries.

Different ideas as the starting signal for the wage gap

As can be seen from the results of the study, the desired and actually realized starting salary are on average not far apart for the graduates. The average starting salary is 42,500 euros, which is just below expectations of around 44,700 euros.

In stark contrast to the different ideas of the two genders: The study shows clear differences in the expectations of female and male graduates with regard to the starting salary. A total of 9,196 euros separate the average salary expectations of women and men. The desired starting salary for men is on average 49,954 euros, that of women at only 40,758 euros. Tina Smetana, Country Manager Germany at Universum – an international employer branding consultancy and part of the StepStone Group – conducted the survey of the graduates about their salary expectations in the run-up to the StepStone analysis and refers to the salary differences between women and men: “The For many, the real wage gap between women and men already arises with the salary expectations when applying for their first job – and this often remains permanent. ”

And in fact, the reference to the so-called “gender pay gap” is not out of thin air. As the results of the study show, the average starting salary of men is on average around 5,600 euros higher than that of women. However, the salary expectations of the men are also 5,000 euros above the actual starting salary, which, among other things, results in a completely different starting point for contract negotiations. While men tend to overestimate themselves in terms of starting salary, women tend to be more modest.

The size of the company and the field of study determine starting salaries

The level of the starting salary is largely influenced by the subject. According to the study, students of psychology and the natural sciences can adjust their salary expectations upwards by an average of 3,300 euros to 41,000 euros and 2,700 euros to 46,600 euros. In contrast, economics students often have to expect a lower starting salary than expected. With a desired starting salary of around 45,000 euros, the actual average salary of 40,700 euros is around 11 percent below expectations. The highest starting salary with around 46,800 euros awaits students in industrial engineering, although expectations of 52,000 euros are speculated for even higher values.

The StepStone analysis also shows that large companies with more than 10,000 employees pay the highest starting salaries with an average of EUR 47,700. Even in companies with up to 5,000 employees, the starting salary is around 5,400 euros higher than in a smaller company with around 50 employees. Here, however, the graduates expect an even bigger difference of 8,700 euros, according to the study. editorial team


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