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The Globe and Mail

Women expect less from their jobs than men: study

Women who are about to enter the workforce are aiming low. Well, lower than their male peers.

A new study conducted by researchers at three Canadian universities has found that women expect to make significantly less than men do and also expect to wait longer to be promoted.

Female university students predict their starting salaries to be 14 per cent less than what male students see coming. And those female students don't see the gap narrowing. Instead, their anticipated earnings after five years on the job were 18 per cent less than men.

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The study also found that female students expect to wait almost two months longer than men do for their first promotion.

"It's a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation," Sean Lyons, a business professor at the University of Guelph, said in a release. "Women know that they currently aren't earning as much as men, so they enter the workforce with that expectation. Because they don't expect to earn as much, they likely aren't as aggressive when it comes to negotiating salaries or pay raises and will accept lower-paying jobs than men, which perpetuates existing inequalities."

Prof. Lyons, along with colleagues from Carleton University and Dalhousie University, surveyed more than 23,000 Canadian university students.

The results suggest not only that women are well aware of the gender gap in salaries - university-educated women earn only 68 per cent of what equally qualified men make, according to a 2008 Canadian Labour Force Survey - they also suggest that men may be hoping for too much when they land a job.

"Over all, we found the male students' expectations are way too high. These results may indicate that women are just more realistic about their salary expectations," Prof. Lyons said.

As well as what students expect in terms of salaries and promotions, researchers also looked at career priorities in the study, to be published in the journal Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations.

Men's career priorities? To earn more money. And women's? Work-life balance and contributing to society.

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What do you think? Do these findings reflect your reality at all?

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