As Women’s Equality Day is celebrated across the U.S. commemorating the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, a new survey finds a significant gender gap among recent college graduates entering the workforce.

Conducted as part of the Cengage Student Opportunity Index, the survey finds overall they feel good about their job prospects, but women are far less confident than men about salary expectations. Three-quarters of men feel confident they will land a job that meets their salary expectations, compared to 62 percent of women. Most women 53 percent feel the country is on the wrong track.

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

“Women’s Equality Day offers an important reminder to workplace leaders that we must be mindful and purposeful in how we attract, train and develop new talent. It also further validates the special responsibility that my female leadership colleagues and I have to champion the growth and development of other women, regardless of industry.”

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.

Key findings based on gender include:  

Employment Outlook: Women are much less confident than men that they will find a job that meets their salary expectations.

While an overwhelming majority (93 percent) of near grads felt strongly they would be able to land a new job in their fields within 6 months of graduating, men are slightly more confident at 96 percent in comparison to women at 91 percent.

When it comes to salary expectations, the gender gap grows significantly, with three-quarters (75 percent) of men feeling confident they will land a job that meets their salary expectations, compared to 62 percent of women.

One in five women are not confident they will be employed at a job that meets their salary expectations within a year.

Politics and the Economy: Female recent or upcoming graduates are more skeptical about the financial and political outlook of the United States.

Only 40 percent of women feel the U.S. economic outlook is better now than when they started college, compared to 62 percent of men – a large 22-point gender gap.

Men are more likely to think the country is going in the right direction than women (49 percent to 29 percent). Most women (53 percent) feel the country is on the wrong track.

Debt: While student loan debt is on the rise overall, a greater number of female recent or upcoming graduates report graduating with no debt in comparison to men.

Women are more likely than men to graduate with no debt (56 percent to 36 percent respectively).

However, for women who report having student debt, the average amount of debt is slightly higher at $23,656 compared to $22,078 for men.

Health: Female recent or upcoming graduates report feeling less satisfied with their overall health than their male counterparts.

Seventy-eight percent of men report being satisfied with their physical health, compared to only 58 percent of women.

The vast majority (80 percent) of men are satisfied with their mental health, compared to 65 percent of women.

More information about gender discrimination among female students is available in the eBook, “Gender Discrimination in the Classroom and Beyond,” available here.

About the Index Methodology 
The Cengage Student Opportunity Index is calculated based on 17 indicators across four categories: Economic, Employment, Social and Personal Well-Being, with data obtained from both primary and secondary sources.

Source: Cengage