According to a report issued this month by the AAUW, among new college graduates men outearn women by an average of nearly $8,000 a year. Some of the reasons for this gap can be explained by easily quantified data, such as women working fewer hours and choosing less lucrative fields of employment. Other possible reasons, such as discrimination and less willingness by women to negotiate salary, are not as clear.
A flaw in the AAUW analysis of salaries is lumping all business majors into one category for comparison.
Female business majors, for example, earned a little over $38,000, while men earned more than $45,000.
Within the general category of business studies, different areas of concentration generate different levels of compensation. For example, according to collegemeasures.org, in the state of Virginia the average first-year earnings for graduates of four-year finance programs was $42,12 while general business management graduates earned $38,578 during their first year in the workforce. I suspect men are over-represented in finance and under-represented in other areas of business such as human resources.
‘Equal pay for equal work’
Among the AAUW recommendations for eliminating the wage gap is new legislation to bolster current laws for equal pay. Although I believe gender and other types of discrimination exist in the workplace, I do not support that recommendation. Given the many nuances inherent in determining what “equal pay for equal work” is exactly, I would prefer not to work in an environment where a “fairness czar” is making those types of decisions.
Milton Friedman making the case against equal pay for equal work
Here is another unexpected wrinkle in the AAUW salary comparisons.
… male engineering majors are more likely than their female counterparts to work as engineers after graduation….
I remember one of other few females also studying geology when I was in college did not go on to work as a geologist when she graduated. Although she had excellent grades, she opted to work in another field she found more fulfilling. She was married to a higher-earning spouse. On the other hand, some other male graduates went to work at lower-paying geology-related jobs after graduating with a four-year degree, planning to attend graduate school within a few years.