Note that the figures below are based on what degrees people got, not what sort of job they actually went into. But nonetheless what goes on is pretty clear overall. Women tend to flock into certain jobs where they are most biologically fit -- such as nursing, teaching and childcare -- and the high level of supply in those jobs tends to drive the prices (wages) in those jobs down
Broad new data on wages earned by college graduates who received federal student aid showed a pay gap emerging between men and women soon after they joined the workforce, even among those receiving the same degree from the same school.
The data, which cover about 1.7 million graduates, showed that median pay for men exceeded that for women three years after graduation in nearly 75% of roughly 11,300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs at some 2,000 universities. In almost half of the programs, male graduates’ median earnings topped women’s by 10% or more, a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from 2015 and 2016 graduates showed.
At Georgetown University, men who received undergraduate accounting degrees earned a median $155,000 three years after graduation, a 55% premium over their female classmates, the analysis showed.
Men who completed law degrees from the University of Michigan earned a median $165,000 three years after graduation, compared with $120,000 for women.
And men who graduated with a dental degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio earned a median $140,000 three years out, compared with $103,000 for women who got the same degree there.
The data, compiled by the Education Department using graduates’ federal tax records, provide evidence that pay gaps between men and women often form earlier than is widely perceived. Nationally, women across the workforce earn an average of 82.3 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to the Labor Department.
Economists who have long examined pay gaps between men and women cite the so-called motherhood penalty—referring to the perception that mothers are less committed to their jobs—and say this affects hiring, promotions and salaries.
Determining why those gaps appear earlier isn’t simple. The federal data don’t account for such factors as recipients of the same degrees seeking different types of jobs and career paths, some of which pay far more than others. Studies have shown that men tend to negotiate salaries more aggressively than women, and women at times shy away from ambitious goals for fear of being unprepared. Even when women and men have identical academic credentials, women sometimes choose lower-paying career paths, pursuing a passion rather than a high paycheck.
The median pay for men from the California State University, Fullerton, nursing master’s program, for instance, was $199,000 three years after graduation, compared with $115,000 for women. The school said that is largely because women in the program gravitated toward nurse midwifery, which pays less than specialties like anesthesiology.
Researchers also say that discrimination, despite laws against it, remains a factor in the gender pay gap at all career levels.
The data don’t cover every student. Nationwide, about 55% of undergraduates, 40% of master’s students and 70% of professional school students receive federal loans or grants, Education Department data show. While that represents a large share of graduates at some schools, it covers only a fraction at other programs—particularly bachelor’s degrees from wealthy universities with generous scholarship aid. The Education Department also didn’t release figures for many small programs.
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