Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Women Graduates Expect to Earn Less than Men

A recent study by Duquesne University professor Charles Wilf shows that women who graduate from college expect to be paid less than their male counterparts. The survey, called the Collegiate Seniors' Economic Expectation Research (SEER) Survey & Index, is intended to be administered annually and tracks trends in career expectations.

Fifty-one percent of women and 35 percent of men polled expect to earn under $30,000 in their first year after college. Twelve percent of women and 24 percent of men expect to earn more than $50,000. (A 2007 report by the American Association of University Women has similar findings: women earn 80 percent of what men make one year after college; that gap widens to 69 percent after 10 years.)

This gender gap in expected earnings results, at least in part, from the choice of academic major. Women who participated in the survey tended to major in the social sciences while men tended to major in fields like computer science and engineering, which generally have higher starting salaries and greater marketability. This finding only highlights the importance of encouraging women students to feel supported and mentored when pursuing fields such as computer science and engineering, something that many colleges and universities are still struggling to achieve.