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Women and men graduating with the same degree won’t earn the same salary

The wage gap in America may be closing, but even for young millennials, it still persists — and it will continue for half a decade after they enter the workforce.

The gender pay gap exists even for the youngest of workers, as young men and women won’t see equal pay until five years after they graduate from college, new research from job site Glassdoor says. Even with the same major, the same graduation date, and the same entry into the workforce, there isn’t an equal playing field among men and women employees.

“You would expect new grads to find a level playing field when it comes to pay, but they generally don’t,” says Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor chief economist. “When we isolate by major, pay gaps still remain, because men and women are sorting into different jobs after graduating — a clear sign of societal pressures and gender norms at play in the career paths of young workers.”

Same degree, different pay

As both genders graduate with the same degrees, the jobs they accept are different even if they meet all of the same qualifications.

Glassdoor says the major with the largest pay gap after graduation is healthcare administration. The most common jobs men accept after graduating are implementation consultant, quality specialist, and data consultant. For women, they’re an administrative assistant, customer care representative, and an0 intern. Because of the jobs accepted, women make 22 percent less than their male counterparts.

It’s not just in health care women find a barrier to earning as much as men. In the mathematics field, women earn 18 percent less than men, while in biology, they earn 13 percent less. There were 50 majors examined in the study.

“Sorting into different college majors contributes to the ‘pipeline problem’ — women are less represented in majors that lead to high-paying positions,” the study says. “For example, nine of the 10 highest paying majors we examined are male-dominated. By contrast, six of the 10 lowest paying majors are female-dominated. Further, even when men and women hold the same degree, women sort into lower-paying jobs and men into higher-paying jobs.”

While still disheartening, this is overall good news for young workers — since most women will not expect equal pay for decades, or possibly even centuries.

While the majority of jobs show that men still out-earn women, strikingly, there are some positions where men earn less than their female counterparts.

Glassdoor says the biggest reverse pay gaps — even though it’s still a pay gap regardless of gender — are in sectors like architecture, where women earn an average of 14 percent more than their male counterparts. Women also out-earn men in music, where they make 10 percent more, and social work, where they average 8.4 percent more than their male colleagues.

“We’ve long known the impact of education on these pathways, but we can now see significant pay gaps emerging from the same majors, and that’s a major problem,” says Dawn Lyon, Glassdoor VP of corporate affairs and chief equal pay advocate. “We need to better educate college graduates about the power of negotiation and educate employers on their entry-level recruiting and hiring to afford men and women the same opportunities coming out of school.”

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Meet the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn


Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


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