female grads

Credit: UNE Photos on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).

(WOMENSENEWS)–One year after college graduation women working full time earn less–82 percent on average–than male counterparts, the American Association of University Women finds in "Graduating to a Pay Gap," a study released Oct. 24.

This is slightly higher than it was in 2001 when, among the same group, women earned just 80 percent of what their male peers earned.

Women working full time earned $35,296 on average, versus $42,918 for male counterparts.

Business was the most popular major for both men (27 percent) and women (19 percent), but female graduates in this sector earned just over $38,000, while men earned just over $45,000.

The study shows that differences in job type and hours explain part of the pay gap, but about one-third of the gap remains unexplained, suggesting that bias and discrimination are still problems in the workplace.

Choice of college major is also an important factor driving the pay gap, authors find, and gender differences in occupation translate into different earnings for men and women.

In light of the findings, authors recommend that employers increase transparency in pay systems, ensure clear structures for evaluation, conduct internal pay equity studies and take steps to address any gender disparities.

Students are also encouraged to carefully choose their majors and understand the salary implications and learn how to negotiate their future salaries by attending workshops on campuses.

Men are more likely than women to major in fields such as engineering and computer science, leading to higher-paying jobs. Women are more likely than men to major in fields such as education and social sciences, which typically lead to lower-paying jobs.

The analysis is based on data of about 15,000 students who received a bachelor’s degree between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2008, and were tracked by "Baccalaureate and Beyond a longitudinal study" by the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education.

Women Strong in Health Care, Teaching

Among 2007–08 college graduates, women made up the large majority of graduates in health care fields (88 percent) and education (81 percent). At the same time, women were a distinct minority in engineering and engineering technology (18 percent) and computer and information sciences (19 percent).

Authors say occupational segregation is a stubborn cause of the gender pay gap.

Among social-science graduates, for example, men were more likely to work in business or management occupations while women were more likely to work as social services professionals and in health care occupations.

The report also shows that the earning gap between men and women one year after graduation varied by institution type and selectivity, with graduates of very selective, private universities typically having higher earnings. But still, no matter which type of institution a woman graduates from or how selective it is, one year later, chances are good that she is earning less than the men with whom she graduated.

The study also finds women more burdened by student debt.

Women and men borrowed roughly similar amounts of money–about $20,000–among 2007–08 college graduates. Women, however, often appear to have a harder time repaying the money for two reasons: lower earnings and a bigger share of the national student loan pie because they are more likely to go to college than men.

Among full-time workers repaying their loans one year after college graduation in 2009, 53 percent of women (39 percent in 2001) versus 39 percent of men (27 percent in 2001) were paying a greater percentage of their earnings toward student loan debt than the American Association of University Women estimates a typical woman or man could reasonably afford to pay.

Also, women are more likely than men to borrow money for school (68 percent versus 63 percent).

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