Disparities among male and female college graduates appeared within three years, a WSJ analysis of federal data for 2015 and 2016 graduates shows
By Melissa Korn, Lauren Weber and Andrea Fuller of The WSJ. Excerpts:
"Broad new data on wages earned by college graduates who received federal student aid showed a pay gap emerging between men and women soon after they joined the workforce, even among those receiving the same degree from the same school.
The data, which cover about 1.7 million graduates, showed that median pay for men exceeded that for women three years after graduation in nearly 75% of roughly 11,300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs at some 2,000 universities. In almost half of the programs, male graduates’ median earnings topped women’s by 10% or more, a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from 2015 and 2016 graduates showed."
"Determining why those gaps appear earlier isn’t simple. The federal data don’t account for such factors as recipients of the same degrees seeking different types of jobs and career paths, some of which pay far more than others. Studies have shown that men tend to negotiate salaries more aggressively than women, and women at times shy away from ambitious goals for fear of being unprepared. Even when women and men have identical academic credentials, women sometimes choose lower-paying career paths, pursuing a passion rather than a high paycheck.
The median pay for men from the California State University, Fullerton, nursing master’s program, for instance, was $199,000 three years after graduation, compared with $115,000 for women. The school said that is largely because women in the program gravitated toward nurse midwifery, which pays less than specialties like anesthesiology.
Researchers also say that discrimination, despite laws against it, remains a factor in the gender pay gap at all career levels."
"Among those with undergraduate degrees, women out-earned men in just four of the 20 most popular areas of study"
"Across those 20 fields, men and women’s pay came closest to parity in economics, where women earned 1.4% more than men.
“There is no neat, tidy explanation” for the early-pay disparities, said Francine Blau, a Cornell University labor economist.
Researchers say women choosing careers sometimes internalize societal expectations about which jobs suit them. Well-intentioned advisers and employers can steer women toward less lucrative options, based on assumptions about their aspirations.
Graduates of petroleum-engineering programs, among the highest-paying undergraduate majors in the country, often take jobs either as field engineers or data analysts. Career-service advisers and graduates said women are more represented in the latter roles, which are based in an office, involve more regular work hours and can pay less."
"Different job tracks also can explain part of the pay gap at Michigan’s law school, where men earned a median income that was 37% higher than women’s three years out.
The school said that in the classes of 2015 and 2016, 237 men took jobs at law firms, while 158 women did. Fourteen men headed into public-interest jobs, whereas three times as many women did. The classes those years had slightly more men than women.
Several women said in interviews that the mission-driven work appealed to them, outweighing the draw of a higher law-firm salary."
"Several women who graduated from the San Antonio program noted that male classmates launched their own practices—generally a more lucrative path—sooner after graduation than female classmates, who often completed residencies and worked for other dentists before buying or starting a practice."
"Research indicates that women are less aggressive than men in negotiating salaries or raises, worrying they will come across as too demanding. If they don’t do so early on, it can be harder to achieve pay equity later."
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