Study Finds College-educated Women Face Income Inequality Early in Careers

The American Association of University Women is out with a study finding that college-educated women are earning only 82% of what men are paid a year after graduation. The report controlled for various factors that affect earnings, such as occupations, majors and hours worked, to ensure the study made a true apples-to-apples comparison.

The Washington Post took a look at the study:

Nearly every occupation has long paid men more than women, despite laws aimed at narrowing and dissolving the differences. Often the gap is attributed to men picking careers with higher salaries, women slowing their careers after having children and differences in work experience. The AAUW researchers decided to look at workers when they are most similar — freshly done with their undergraduate studies, lacking vast experience and unlikely to have spouses or children.

They focused on those who graduated during the 2007-08 school year, zeroed in on full-time workers and studied what they earned in 2009, one year after graduation. The women made only 82 percent of what the men were paid, with the average woman making $35,296 while men were paid an average of $42,918...

Even when men and women had the same majors, there were often gaps in pay. The researchers found that female business majors earned an average of slightly more than $38,000, while men earned just over $45,000. In engineering, technology, computer science and social sciences fields, researchers found that women made between 77 percent and 88 percent of what their male colleagues were paid. (The health-care and education fields were credited for paying men and women about the same.)

The researchers explain in the study the wide-reaching impact of this gender pay gap for women throughout their careers and lives. 

The pay gap has implications from the moment college graduates throw their caps in the air. More than half of women working full time and repaying their college loans one year after college graduation are paying a higher percentage of their earnings to student loan debt than a typical woman can reasonably afford. Lower earnings have an immediate effect after college, setting into motion a chain of disparities that will follow women throughout their careers. Women experience the consequences of the pay gap from their very first paycheck to their very last Social Security check. Nearly 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, it is surprising that women continue to earn less than men do, even when they make the same choices. Making equal pay for men and women a reality will require action on the part of employers, public policy makers, and individuals.


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