Graduate Perspectives

Male graduates are more optimistic about salaries and the U.S. economy than female grads.

While recent college graduates feel good about their job prospects, women are much less confident than men when it comes to salary expectations, according to a study released in August by the education company Cengage. Women are also significantly less optimistic than men about the economic outlook of the U.S. The Cengage Student Opportunity Index measured the opportunity environment for graduates across 17 indicators, using existing public data and a survey of 2,500 recent and upcoming graduates.

Specifically, 75 percent of men but only 62 percent of women are confident that they will land jobs that meet their salary expectations. Only 40 percent of the women, compared to 62 percent of the men, believe the U.S. economic outlook is better now than when they started college. At the same time, 29 percent of the women and 49 percent of the men believe the U.S. is headed in the right direction.

Gender differences also persist on the topic of debt. While only 36 percent of the men are likely to graduate with no debt, 56 percent of the women are. However, for women who report having student debt, the average amount is slightly higher at US$23,656 compared to $22,078 for men.

“The cornerstone of the American dream is that everyone deserves an equal and fair opportunity to succeed,” says Sharon Loeb, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Cengage. “And yet, the persistent gender gap among recent college graduates underscores that we have more work to do in order to create a level playing field.”

Read more in the free e-book Gender Discrimination in the Classroom and Beyond.