For years, women have had to deal with getting paid less than men. And quite often the justification was that women were more likely to leave the workplace to have families and potentially not return – so the training and management grooming money would be wasted, and better spent on a man.
And while much of that blatantly sexist thinking has been removed from the workplace, the reality of the pay gap remains. This doesn’t make sense, since more and more women are choosing careers first, delaying building families for years, and entering the workplace just as qualified and ready as men.
Yet according to a new study reported by the Washington Post, women graduating college are only starting out making 82% as much as their male peers.
Here is a bit of the coverage:
The report, released today by the American Association of University Women, uses Dept. of Education data from a survey of 15,000 graduates of the class of 2009. Within one year of graduating, males were averaging $42,918 while women only earned an average of $35,296.
It didn’t really matter what type of school the graduates had attended, though the pay gap was the highest for people who had attended a private, nonprofit university, with women only earning 75% of the salaries earned by male graduates.
Researchers also looked at nine different fields of undergraduate study and found that for five of the concentrations — Engineering, Computer & Information Sciences, Business, Social Sciences, and a cluster of applied fields like architecture, public administration, design, and others — the pay gap scaled almost in line with the national average. So though people with engineering degrees earned more than everyone else, women with engineering degrees still only earned an average of 88% of the men.
Of the four fields of study with no significant difference in pay between the genders, — Healthcare, Education, Humanities, and a cluster of sciences, including biology, mathematics and agricultural sciences — two (Healthcare and Education) are fields where the classrooms are overwhelmingly populated (more than 80%) by female students.
It has been a long time since I graduated college, but I remember a number of very smart and talented women who sat alongside me in many classes in physics and engineering – the thought that even back then they would have been paid less for doing the same job for the same company seems unfathomable. To come forward to today and still have this be the case is unimaginable.
What have you seen or heard about the pay gap lately? And what should be done?