Press Releases: Female graduates seeking careers in male-dominated sectors

Press Releases April 2014

New research shows female graduates increasingly seeking careers in male-dominated job sectors. Propensity for male graduates to look for careers in traditionally female-dominated job sectors has fallen over the last decade.

New research from, the largest independent graduate jobs board in the UK, reveals that female graduates are increasingly seeking careers in traditionally male-dominated job sectors. Analysis of the career preferences of nearly 600,000 graduate job-seekers over the last decade shows that more female graduates are seeking to work in job sectors such as Engineering; Utilities (eg Energy and Telecoms); and Manufacturing and Production.

However the same can't be said for male graduates.'s data shows that the propensity for male graduates to look for careers in traditionally female-dominated job sectors has fallen over the last decade. This trend is most pronounced in Secretarial & Business Administration, a sector where female graduates' dominance has risen by nearly 5 percentage points since 2003, meaning currently just 25 per cent of graduates looking for jobs in the sector are male.

The career sectors demonstrating the most dominant preference by females are in Secretarial & Business Administration; Charities; and Languages. The sectors demonstrating the most dominant preference by males are Engineering; Sport and Recreation; and Utilities (for example, Energy and Telecoms).

The results build on previous research conducted by which shows that the gender pay gap starts at university, as more male graduates than female graduates choose careers in industry sectors that pay higher salaries.

Top five sectors preferred by female graduates - 2013

RankSector% male graduates% female graduates% change in male graduates
1stSecretarial & Business Admin24.23 %75.77 %Decrease of 4.36 %
2ndCharities29.84 %70.16 %Decrease of 3.50 %
3rdLanguages31.32 %68.68 %Decrease of 3.27 %
4thHealth33.75 %66.25 %Decrease of 2.98 %
5thTravel & Hospitality34.15 %65.85 %Decrease of 5.25 %

Top five sectors preferred by male graduates - 2013

RankSector% male graduates% female graduates% change in female graduates
1stEngineering80.68%19.32%Increase of 2.37%
2ndSport & Recreation74.64%25.36 %Decrease of 6.36%
3rdUtilities (eg Energy & Telecoms)71.87 %28.13 %Increase of 1.05 %
4thArchitecture70.04 %29.96 %Decrease of 0.07 %
5thManufacturing & Production69.20 %30.80 %Increase of 1.07 %

The research shows that as technology has become a more prominent part of everyday life since 2003, the dominance of males looking for jobs in Digital Media, IT and Computing has subsided from 71.89 percentage points in 2003 to 65.78 percentage points in 2013. This puts the sector outside of the top five in terms of the scale of gender disparity in career preferences.

Increasingly female graduates are looking to work in traditionally male-dominated areas, showing that efforts to combat the gender career divide are working for women. For example, despite male graduates constituting 80 per cent of the graduates looking to begin a career in Engineering, the percentage of female graduates looking for jobs in that section has risen steadily since 2003. Many employers are looking for career-driven women in sectors primarily populated by men, such as banking, engineering, telecoms, IT and sales. These recruiters often advertise on the female focused

However, the data shows that male graduates are progressively more hesitant to consider roles in female-dominated job sectors, such as in Secretarial and Business Administration, or Health. Career advisors at schools and universities must ensure that they provide students with relevant information on the enormous number of career opportunities available. More resources need to be committed to helping men overcome the barriers that prevent them pursuing careers in female-dominated industries. There are high-quality careers which many simply aren't considering, perhaps owing to a perception that their gender precludes them from applying. They must not let a misapprehension close any doors as they look to begin their careers. Encouraging more men into female-dominated job sectors has the knock-on effect of easing competition women face entering male-dominated sectors.

Methodology assessed the job sectors which 580,436 graduate job seekers registered to search for a career in on, between 2003 and 2013. The data was segmented by gender and year before being analysed.