Women Draw The Short Straw

According to an analysis published by Jillian Berman, Georgetown University’s Center on Education, and the Workforce, though women are more likely to go to college and earn degrees than men, they don’t reap as large of a benefit from their education. Instead, says the report, women typically need one more degree to earn as much as men on average. 

For example, says the report, a woman with a bachelor’s degree earns $61,000 a year on average and a man with an associate’s degree earns roughly the same, $59,000 a year on average, the study found. 

Women with less education are at an even greater disadvantage, says the report. While there are still some male-dominated jobs that require only a high school diploma and pay decently, said Nicole Smith, the chief economist at Georgetown’s CEW... “… that door has essentially closed for women…

for decades (women) have been sold a story that if you go to school, get an education, do the best that you can academically… there’s potential for you to be the best… and be anything that you want… But the reality, according to this data, is that ‘it appears as if women can’t win’…”

There are many reasons why women need more education to earn more, says the report…

  • Women pursuing college degrees are more likely to major in fields where earnings are less on average. There’s some evidence to indicate that earnings may be less in those fields precisely because they’re female dominated. 
  • The secretary was once a male-dominated field, but companies began to realize they could pay women less to do the same work and then it became a female-dominated field. 

Smith asks “… is biology one of the lowest paying STEM majors because it is, or because there are more women who study biology?...”

Because that kind of relationship is hard to weed out, and because officials can’t mandate a specific pay for a specific field, educators and policymakers looking to close the gender pay gap should encourage women to think broadly about the fields they’d like to study, opines the report.

At lower levels of education, says the report, men still dominate occupations that earn more, the study found. Men tend to pursue higher paying associate’s degrees, like engineering and drafting or computer and information services, whereas women are concentrated in healthcare and business. 

Concluding, the report says that, for women who pursue a post-high school certificate, the time and money spent may not even be worth it… they get just a 16% wage premium over a high school graduate, compared to 27% for men. 

These, and experience, position, number of hours worked, etc., may explain some of the reason why women earn less on average. But even when researchers control for these variables, women are still earning 8 cents less per dollar than men. 

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