Generation Z sees 40% more female graduates in engineering compared to Generation Y – research

  • Gen Z females make up 25% of engineering graduates compared with Gen Y who make up 18% – representing a 40% increase in one generation
  • Female Gen Z graduates in business have also increased by 4% compared to previous generation
  • Conversely, female graduates in IT have dropped by 11% from generation Y to Z
  • Generational priorities have changed – Gen Z value an employer’s prestige, innovation credentials and friendly work environment more than Gen Y counterparts, but high future earnings remain top priority
  • GM Orla Moran: “Investment in STEM for women seems to have had an effect on the choices young women are making in those fields.”

Generation Z (‘Gen Z’), the generation born between 1996 and 2010, have seen their female cohort produce 40% more engineering graduates than their Generation Y (‘millennial’) counterparts, according to new 2020 global talent market research by, in partnership with employer brand specialist Universum.

The research, which was conducted among 11,769 students across the areas of business, IT, engineering, law and health noted a generational increase in the number of female graduates in both the engineering and business fields of 40% and 4% respectively. It also noted a drop off in the number of female IT graduates, an 11% decrease from Gen Y/Millennials to Gen Z.

The increase in engineering graduates among the Gen Z cohort could suggest that investment by corporates like Dell EMC, Accenture, and Johnson & Johnson in the promotion of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers among female graduates, has helped to encourage the increase in those graduating with  degrees in the sector. However, it also suggests that more work is still required to position IT as an attractive career prospect for females. 

The generation gap

Gender aside, there has been a shift in priorities across the board among Gen Z graduates and their Gen Y/Millennial counterparts when looking at the sought-after attributes amongst potential employers.

While remuneration is the main driver for Gen Z graduates across all industries, other prominent factors include the company’s prestige, its innovation credentials, or a friendly work environment. For Generation Y respondents, professional training opportunities rank above a competitive salary or higher future earnings.  

Graduate pool analysis

According to the research, the business, engineering and law graduate pool is predominantly made up of Gen Z students, with 9 out of 10 students from these sectors falling within the Gen Z age bracket.

The make-up of the IT graduate pool is notably different, comprising of twice as many Gen Y graduates compared to all other sectors.

In total, 21% of IT graduates are from the now older Millennial/Generation Y. This could be in direct response to the demand for more IT skills in the job market and a subsequent return to education among Gen Ys as they retrain to meet the demand for skilled IT personnel.

Commenting on the data, General Manager at, Orla Moran said:

“A lot can change in a generation and that’s particularly true for the Irish labour market, according to the findings of our latest research with Universum.

“In terms of the makeup of the current talent market, there has been positive growth in female graduates in the engineering sector from Gen Y to Gen Z. This may be down to the huge emphasis put on women to study STEM subjects in recent years and investment in female led initiatives that draw attention to female involvement in STEM. However, there has been a slight drop off in female IT graduates from Gen Y to Z, which suggests that there is still work to be done.

“When it comes to what graduates want from an employer, expectations are high among Gen Z professionals. From the outset, they expect higher pay and better conditions than their Gen Y counterparts, while also looking for opportunities to travel and work abroad. Compared to Gen Y, Gen Z had graduated into a robust economy that was recovering well after many austere years. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic those gains have been curtailed, however the professional job market has remained buoyant.

“Gen Z are a highly educated and motivated generation. They want more from their employers than ever before and are ambitiously signalling to employers that they want to progress and improve their skills. When polled Gen Z consistently stated development as a key attraction among employers. Employers looking to attract graduates to join the workforce should strongly consider these motivations when they are looking to recruit, and adopt their employer brand strategy to showcase what they can offer a potential employee that fits their needs as a Gen Z professional.”


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