In the latest issues of The Economist facts and figures have been published about graduation rates and job expectations. More girls than boys now complete their secondary education in 32 of the 34 countries of the OECD, only in Germany and Switzerland do girls lag behind. Moreover, female graduates greatly outnumber male graduates. Overall they account for 58% of graduates within OECD member states in 2009. That trend is also evident in Britain, where almost 45% of young women are graduates, compared to 36% of young men. British women make up three-quarters of the student body in education and in health and welfare, but less than a quarter in engineering.

According to a recent report by Universum, a Swedish consultancy, women and men seem to differ in workplace and career aspirations, which may explain why women expect lower salaries than men. Men generally place more importance on being a leader or manager and seek out jobs with high levels of responsibility and prestige, whereas the working habits of women tend towards working for companies with high corporate social responsibility and ethical standards. The business world matches women’s negative expectations: despite being so well qualified, they still earn on average 17.5% less than men in the European Union.

The Economist points out that women should be motivated to work instead as they bring unique strengths to a work environment. They are more collaborative than men and better at multitasking, as well as being more likely to understand the tastes and aspirations of the largest group of consumers in the world: women. There is also evidence that companies with more women in top jobs perform better than those run by men only.

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