Why some common college majors feed the gender pay gap

MILL VALLEY
April 19, 2017 9:49am
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•  Biggest post college pay gaps include healthcare administration, mathematics and biology

•  “You would expect new grads to find a level playing field when it comes to pay”


Nine of the 10 highest paying college majors are male dominated while six of the 10 lowest paying majors are female dominated, according to the jobs site Glassdoor.com.

Further, even when men and women hold the same degree, women sort into lower-paying jobs and men into higher-paying jobs, says Glassdoor, which says it studied a dataset of more than 46,900 resumes shared on its website to reach its conclusions about the average gender pay gaps in the early stages of careers.

It says its study shows the impact college majors have on career paths and ultimately gender pay gaps within the first five years after graduation.

The sorting into different college majors contributes to the "pipeline problem" -- women are less represented in majors that lead to high-paying positions, it says.

Among the 50 majors examined, the study found that, on average, college-educated workers in the first five years of their careers face an 11.5 percent unadjusted gender pay gap. That means that women, on average, earn about 88 cents for every dollar that men earn, Glassdoor says.

Men in this sample earned a median base pay of $56,957 per year, while women earned $50,426 per year. While that pay gap is well below the overall 24.1 percent unadjusted pay gap in the U.S. reported in a 2016 Glassdoor study, the data show the pay gap widens with age.

"You would expect new grads to find a level playing field when it comes to pay, but they generally don't. Glassdoor's analysis shows an 11.5 percent average pay gap among new grads in the early years of their careers," says Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor chief economist. "When we isolate by major, pay gaps remain because men and women are sorting into different jobs after graduating -- a clear sign of societal pressures and gender norms at play in the career paths of young workers."

Center>With Same Degree, Men and Women Sort Into Different Jobs With Different Pay

Even with the same degree, men and women often sort into different jobs -- that pay differently -- after graduation, resulting in a gender pay gap that persists in the first five years of their careers, Glassdoor says.

For example, the major leading to the largest average pay gap is “Healthcare Administration” (22 percent pay gap), and the three most common jobs men take after college are implementation consultant, quality specialist and data consultant. For women, the three most common jobs after earning the same degree are lower-paying positions such as administrative assistant, customer care representative and intern.

Beyond healthcare administration, mathematics (18 percent pay gap) and biology (13 percent pay gap) lead to the largest pay gaps favoring men. The majors resulting in the biggest reverse pay gaps (where women earn more than men) are architecture (-14 percent pay gap), music (-10.1 percent pay gap) and social work (-8.4 percent pay gap).

"This new research gives us a chance to reflect on the origin of the pipeline problem that pushes men and women into different career paths. We've long known the impact of education on these pathways, but we can now see significant pay gaps emerging from the same majors -- and that's a major problem," says Dawn Lyon, Glassdoor vice president of corporate affairs and chief equal pay advocate. "We need to better educate college graduates about the power of negotiation and educate employers on their entry-level recruiting and hiring to afford men and women the same opportunities coming out of school."

Study notes

All names and other personally identifying information were removed from resumes before access by researchers. No personally identifying information of any kind was used in this research, Glassdoor says. The unadjusted pay gap is defined as the average pay gap comparing all women and all men in the sample.


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