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Why are so few women applying to graduate schemes?

There are more female graduates than males in universities, yet only 47% of graduate programme applicants are women

A new report has revealed that while women are more likely to achieve success when applying for graduate programmes, they are still underrepresented in terms of application volume. The report, released by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), demonstrates that graduate programmes nationally are still dominated by male candidates and that a myth still pervades that male applicants are more likely to be successful in their submissions.

In truth, this is no longer the case. The report illustrates that while fewer female candidates apply for graduate programmes, they are far more likely to beat off the male competition in terms of successfully landing a top job. The reality is that gender diversity is improving nationally across graduate programmes; however, this is hampered by a second issue – misconceptions prompting female applicants to search out roles through other means.

There are currently more female graduates than males emerging from universities, yet only 47% of graduate programme applicants are women. The research undertaken by the AGR demonstrates that this is a recurring trend that features across all industry sectors, whereby female applicants are more likely to succeed but less likely to consider applying.

With most corporate firms and sectors committing to enhance their gender diversity each year, the positive news is that females will continue to be championed when applying for top roles; however, this begs the question of why females are seemingly reluctant to apply.

The key issue may stem from a general lack of confidence in female graduates in their ability to secure a great role. The charity Girlguiding recently suggested that the closer a woman gets to securing a job, the more they lack confidence in their ability to secure it. Of groups of girls studied by age range, one-third of females between 17 and 21 assumed that they would have an equal opportunity for a top role, compared with 90% of the girls surveyed at aged 10.

The study also revealed that student perception of their industry is one of the employers’ greatest challenges when it comes to attracting a more diverse workforce. Anecdotal evidence from speaking with universities and graduate employers indicates that male graduates are more willing to take chances, with women seemingly lacking confidence. Even more surprising is the revelation that confidence could be seen to drop incrementally as women grew older and approached job-seeking age.

To mitigate this myth, over 80% of employers are calling for investment across all sectors to boost the confidence of female graduates and dispel some of the obstacles holding top female applicants back from landing their ideal role.

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