Career Planning

New Grads Face 11.5% Gender Pay Gap Within First 5 Years of Employment

By Francine Fluetsch, UC Santa Cruz

As a parent, you naturally want the best for your student, especially after they have gone through all the grueling work of earning their degree. You don’t want to think about the wage gap still being a thing for today’s grads, but unfortunately, it is still ever present, even when men and women hold the same degree.

According to this press release, Glassdoor, one of the world’s fastest growing job sites, revealed how men and women’s college majors contribute to the average gender pay gap in the early stages of careers. The study claims that majors have a huge impact on career paths and ultimately gender wage gaps within the first five years of graduation, and it may be a little messier than you think.

Sorting men and women into different college majors definitely contributes to this pipeline problem, when women are less represented in majors that lead to high paying positions. They gave the example of nine out of the 10 highest paying majors being dominated by males, whereas six out of the 10 lowest earning majors being conveniently dominated by women. Now you may be thinking, “I’ll just make sure my daughter goes for a higher paying major,” but even this might not help her earn the same amount as a male would. The Glassdoor study showed that even when men and women held the same degree, the men were sorted into higher paying jobs than the women were. This is insane!

According to the press release, the study found that college-educated workers in the first five years of their careers face an 11.5 percent unadjusted gender pay gap. This means women earn on average about $0.88 for every $1.00 men earn. Men in the study earned a median base pay of about $56,957 per year and women earned $50,426 per year.

So if we understand this is happening, why does it continue to happen? The fact of the matter is that even if it’s 2017 and even if women are now socially accepted in the workforce, gender norms are still at play, especially for young workers. This can be very frustrating for you as a parent to witness because your daughter worked just as hard as any of her male counterparts, and yet, she won’t be compensated in the same way due to outdated social norms and bias.

The press release talks about Healthcare Administration witnessing the biggest wage gap at a whopping 22 percent, but how exactly does this happen? The men who graduate and pursue this field will be sorted into jobs like implementation consultant, quality specialist, and data consultant. For women, the three most common jobs after earning the exact same degree are lower-paying positions such as administrative assistant, customer care representative, and intern. Intern?! Are you kidding me? A man gets a degree and is handed a nice job with a fat salary, while a woman gets handed an intern position, something that is way below her qualifications.

Biology and mathematics are two other fields that predominately favor men for the higher positions right after graduation, even with more women pursuing these degrees now. This is looking grim for all the young ladies in your life that are graduating, but apparently, there are a few fields, like architecture, music, and social work that have a reverse pay gap, where women actually make more than men do. If you are interested in seeing where your child will lie on the wage gap, you can check out a list of all the majors on Glassdoor’s blog.

So what exactly can be done about this problem, and how should you help your almost-graduate prepare for the harsh reality of the workforce?

“This new research gives us a chance to reflect on the origin of the pipeline problem that pushes men and women into different career paths. 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,” said Dawn Lyon, Glassdoor vice president of corporate affairs and chief equal pay advocate.

Lyon says that we need to help our grads understand their worth and better educate them about the power of negotiation. Help your child be part of the generation to end the wage gap once and for all. Of course, this stems beyond the new grads and into the problems with the employers themselves, who Lyon says, in turn, need to be educated on their entry-level hiring so they understand that they need to give both men and women who hold the same degree equal opportunities at the positions in question. Until this happens, the wage gap won’t be diminished.

The full study can be found on Glassdoor Economic Research and includes information about the gender divide by major, most common jobs by major, the most and least specialized college majors, what majors lead to which jobs by gender, and how each major stacks up in terms of earning potential by gender.

You and your student can also utilize tools like Know Your Worth (through Glassdoor) that help people see if they are being fairly compensated for the work they are doing or not. The tools can help people determine if they should negotiate higher pay or if they should look for another job altogether. Your student has worked so hard, and they shouldn’t be diminished by a sexist workforce. Help them see their worth and show them how to fight for themselves and what they think they deserve.

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