College to Workplace Transition Varies for Men and Women

As we approach Women’s History Month in March, the gender pay gap remains an important issue in today’s workplace. But a recent survey released by the Center for Professional Excellence (CPE) at York College of Pennsylvania suggests young women undergo several other challenges beyond the paycheck as they transition from college to the workforce.

When asked to rate the degree of difficulty for transitioning from college to full-time employment on a scale of 1 (easiest) to 5 (hardest), the average response for females fell at 2.74, higher than their male counterparts at 2.43. The biggest challenge experienced by both groups was finding a career in their chosen field (39.6 percent), followed by abiding to a more rigid schedule/early mornings (15.5 percent).

On the same 1 to 5 scale, males (3.81) rated themselves as better prepared than females (3.63), when asked if they felt they had the necessary professional skills to succeed.

“Whether male graduates are legitimately better prepared, or if they simply feel they are without a solid argument to defend that notion, is certainly a topic for deeper inquiry and discussion. ” said Matthew Randall, executive director of the CPE. “But what seems possible is that males’ inflated views of themselves may actually provide them with the boost of confidence needed to make the college-to-work transition easier. To a point, perception is reality in the workplace and a worker who feels confident in his or her abilities will generally outperform, in the short term, one who is constantly second-guessing him or herself.”

Females were also more likely to experience a generational divide than males. When asked to what extent they agreed that “coworkers of older generations (i.e. Baby Boomers, Gen X) understand my generation of workers,” the male average response was 2.82, compared to the female average of 2.64.

“Both genders struggle bridging the gap between generations, as respondents overall were twice as likely to disagree that older generations understood them than they were to agree with the statement,” Randall added. “But if the issue is more prevalent for women, it can be yet another obstacle when trying to establish a firm foundation for a promising career.”

Since 2010, York College of Pennsylvania’s Center for Professional Excellence has conducted a national study on professionalism in recent college graduates. Previous research has surveyed human resources professionals, managers, college faculty, college career development officials, and now graduates themselves.

A national sample of 519 recent college graduates between ages 23-28 participated in the survey. The maximum margin of error associated with the samples is 4.3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

The full survey results, which address several aspects of college graduates transitioning to the workplace, can be found here.


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Source Contact Information

York College of Pennsylvania
Executive Director, Center for Professional Excellence