Despite news this week that the gender pay gap may be closing, a survey has found one source of pressure in the other direction.

Thirty five percent of British men aspire to earn over £100k p/a in their working lives, compared to just 15 percent of women, highlighting a clear ‘aspiration gap’ between men and women in the UK, according to new research conducted by The study also highlighted that female employees aspire to careers in advertising and teaching, while men favour IT and engineering roles.

The survey, conducted by job search engine Adzuna in October 2014, analysed attitudes of over 1,000 UK workers to highlight the differences in male and female workplace priorities. In addition to revealing employee attitudes in their current roles, the study explored British workplace ambitions and aspirations amongst men and women.

The survey showed that nearly a third (30%) of women would be content with salaries between £20-30k, while half as many men (15%) claim they would be happy at this level. Male employees also expressed greater confidence in achieving career ambitions, with 36% of men believing they will reach their goals, compared to just 16% of women.

Sector separation

The survey saw women setting their sights on roles in media, PR & advertising (20%), charity and volunteer work (11.05%) and Teaching (10%). In contrast, male employees ranked roles in digital / technology (31.5%) and engineering (10.96%) as the most attractive for them.

A gender divide

The data indicates that male workers in Britain rate their salary as the least satisfactory element of their working lives, with one third (31%) of male employees rating it top on their list of workplace annoyances. Progression opportunities and work-life balance rounded out the top three employment concerns for men, while three quarters (73%) of men thought that relationships with co-workers were the least of their worries. 38% of women, on the other hand, voiced most concern about promotional opportunities, claiming this as the least satisfactory element of employment, closely followed by pay and workplace friendships.

The number of men aspiring to reach the top of the organisational hierarchy (becoming business owners, CEOs or directors) was 10% higher than women. Over a quarter of Britain’s female workforce are happier to have low profile roles, preferring to work as part of the team to leadership positions. Comparatively, only a fifth of men interviewed shared this preference.

Women in the workplace are highly ambitious, the survey found, although their aspirations differ from their male counterparts. More women than men had their hearts set on the flexibility of working for themselves in a freelance or self-employed capacity.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, commented:

“The research highlighted some interesting contrasts among men and women in the UK labour market. The survey suggests that many British women feel hampered by lack of confidence, and claim external factors like family commitments and competition for jobs as reasons for not achieving career goals. Conversely, the men surveyed were (perhaps overly) confident in achieving or surpassing their career goals. The main reasons the men surveyed believed they may fail to reach career goals were self-confessed laziness and a lack of motivation.”

“On the other side of the coin, the survey found almost as many women as men would now leap at the chance to be the main breadwinner, while their partners take a more family-centric role in the home.”