Graduate Women and Mothers: The Job Market Penalizes Them

Data from AlmaLaurea’s 2016 Report confirm that women graduates with children, notwithstanding their brilliant university performance, have less chances of finding employment in the job market.
09 May 2016

Reading the 18th AlmaLaurea Report on the profile and employment condition of Italian graduates confirms that women are more penalized on the job if they have children. In fact, all things being equal, the strong difference in terms of employment, contracts, and salaries between men and women increases if there are children.

Women have more brilliant university results compared to their male counterparts, both in terms of regularity of studies and of grades, in every faculty.

Data from the two surveys indicate that of 2015 university graduates, women make up the strong majority, 60%. 48% of women graduate on time compared to 44% of men (the national average is 47%), and the average graduation final grade is equal to 103.2/110 for women and 101.1 for men (102.3 national average). The same is true across all faculties, and all things being equal (social origin, university prerequisite studies, etc.).

The employment differential a year after graduation reaches almost 15% for people with children (the employment rate, considering only those who do not work at the end of their degree is equal to 41.5% among men, against 27% of women). The employment differential goes down 10 percentage points always in favor of men among those who do not have children (employment rate equal to 50.5% compared to 41%, respectively.)

Five years after graduation, the differential continues: 28% among those who have children (employment rate is equal to 85% for men, 57% for women graduates), while it decreases 9%, always in favor of men, for those who do not have children (employment rate equal to 81% vs 72% respectively).

Even among women who graduated, those who have children are penalized. After one year from graduation 41% of women graduates without children are employed, compared to 27% of women with children (a differential of 14%). After five years from graduation the difference remains (15%), 72% of women graduates without children work compared to 57% of those with children.

There are also meaningful differences in type of contract and retribution. Having a stable job five years from graduation is a male prerogative: 78% of men can count on a stable job and only 67% of women.  48% of women and 58% of men have an open-ended contract. These differences are in some part linked to the different professional choices made by men and women. In fact, women tend more frequently to go into public employment and the teaching profession, and in this latter field it is particularly difficult to obtain stable contracts, at least in a short time frame.

As far as wages are concerned the difference between men and women is confirmed. Five years after receiving their degree, among specialized graduates who started their current occupation after graduating and that are working full time, the differential is equal to 20% in favor of  males: 1,624 euros against 1,354 euros paid to women.

Furthermore, among graduates with children the differential increases to 32%, always in favor of men. The differential is equal to 19% among those who do not have children. If it is true that this result is influenced by different professional choices made by men and women, it is also true that, all things equal, men earn on average 168 euros net per month more than women.


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