The latest statistics on the salaries of college graduates in the United States show that after graduating from college and entering the labor market, wage gap between genders form very early, even between men and women with the same degree from the same school!
The data, which covers 1,700,000 U.S. college graduates and a sample of about 11,300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs at roughly 2,000 universities, found that nearly three-quarters of men earned higher median income than women three years after graduation.
A Wall Street Journal analysis of 2015 and 2016 graduate data shows that in nearly half of professional programs, male graduates’ median income are 10% higher than female graduates median income.
According to the analysis, at Georgetown University, men with an undergraduate accounting degree earned an average of $155,000 three years after graduation, 55% higher than female graduates with the same degree.
Men who completed a law degree from the University of Michigan earned an average annual income of $165,000 three years after graduation, while female graduates with the same degree earn an annual income of $120,000.
Data from the Ministry of Education confirm that the pay gap between men and women forms sooner than we think. Nationwide on average, for every dollar men earn, women earn 82.3 cents, according to the Labor Department.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)
Same Major, Different Career Choices
Research shows that men tend to negotiate salaries more aggressively than women, while women sometimes walk away from salary goals, fearing that they are unprepared. Even when they’ve had the same education, women sometimes choose lower-paying career paths to pursue their professional ideals.
For example, male graduates of Cal State Fullerton's Master of Nursing Program earn an average salary of $199,000 three years after graduation, while female graduates earn $115,000. According to the school, this is largely because women in the program are more likely to become nurses or midwives, and these jobs receive lower pay compared to majors such as anesthesiology.
Researchers say that while gender discrimination is prohibited by law, gender remains a big factor in the forming of gender pay gap in all occupations.
The Journal also found early career pay disparities in a range of fields, including male-dominated fields such as business, as well as female-dominated fields, such as education. Regardless of degree, men in most fields have higher median earnings than women.
According to the Wall Street Journal, among those with undergraduate degrees, women earn more than men in only 4 out of the 20 most popular fields of study, including Design and Communication. Women who study English earn about 6% more than men of the same age, one of the widest gaps.
Pay levels across genders are the closest to equal in Economics, with women earning 1.4% more than men. In 8 other popular fields, including Business, a popular undergraduate major, men are paid at least 10% more than women.
Petroleum Engineering is one of the highest-paying undergraduate majors in the US. Its graduates typically working as field engineers or data analysts, and female graduates are much more likely to work in the latter position, working in an office with more regular hours but earning less.
Four out of five petroleum engineering graduates in the U.S. report that men earn more than women. At the University of Houston, men with a bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering earned an average of $86,000 three years after graduation, compared with $73,000 for women—a nearly 19% difference.
When Roxanne Marino completed her Petroleum Engineering degree in Houston in 2018, she wanted to work with drilling operators in the oil field.
She said recruiters didn't trust her resolve because it meant little free time and long hours. Some female recruiters, trying to put her off without saying anything outright, said things like "you don't wear makeup there."
Now, the 26-year-old works on-site at Schlumberger Ltd. in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. She would work three weeks straight, and then take three weeks off. After two promotions, she now has a base salary of about $77,000 and an annual bonus that can exceed $30,000.
Monica Thompson, executive director of University of Houston Career Services, said her team often cautions recruiters against "implicit bias." She said some recruiters would decide against hiring someone because they didn’t feel like a good fit for the job, and "that student didn't look like someone they were used to hiring."
Women are More Likely to be Driven by a "Sense of Purpose"
Michigan Law School, in the class of 2015 and 2016, had 237 male graduates working in law firms, compared with 158 female graduates. Meanwhile, there are 14 men working in public service and three times as many women. Different job trajectories can also partly explain this pay gap, with men earning a median of 37% more than women.
Several women said in interviews that mission-driven jobs appealed to them more than higher salaries at law firms.
“Through corporate law, I could make all the money in the world, but I’d rather get some kind of satisfaction out of my job,” said Selena Alonzo, a 2018 Michigan law graduate who is currently a public defender in Seattle with an annual income of $86,000.
Investment in Family
After graduating from the dental program at UT Health Science Center in San Antonio in 2017, Anisa Maredia completed her residency before working in Houston area dental practices. She said she saw some interviewers bring up or ask about the marital and family status of female candidates during interviews. She believes that interviewers are concerned about female dentists' commitment to their profession.
"When male dentists apply for jobs, they are admitted more quickly than female dentists." To have more control over her income and career path, Maredia said she opened her own dental practice last fall and is already earning more than she did when she was working at other clinics.
Even so, several women graduating from the San Antonio program noted that their male classmates opened clinics sooner than their female counterparts after graduation, and started on this high-yield path earlier.
Lacking Confidence in Salary Negotiations
Many of the women interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said that self-confidence played a decisive role in their career choices. Research shows that women are less confident than men when negotiating wages or raises, and instead worry that their salary expectations are too high for employers. But if they don't get a satisfactory salary early on in the job, it may become more difficult to achieve pay parity later on.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)
Danielle Lomas, a 2015 graduate of Georgetown University's undergraduate accounting program, talked about the importance of negotiating compensation in an interview. She recently negotiated a $10,000 raise at her company. She said the company was quick to approve, which made her think she should set her goals higher.
At Georgetown, women with an undergraduate accounting degree earned an average of $99,000 three years after graduation, compared with $155,000 for their male peers.
According to the University’s 2021 survey data, male and female accountancy majors are paid roughly the same, however, women’s careers remain a delicate issue, with a variety of persistent factors affecting their pay levels and creating persistent gender pay gaps.