Gender Wage Gap can be Defined by College Major

August 19, 2009

The gender wage gap is no myth and even recent legislation can only attempt to close it. But many factors may contribute to the gender wage gap, and recent studies show that choosing a college major can be one of them.

Women are segregated into careers that pay less said Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, assistant professor at Ohio State University and author of the study. “If you really want to eliminate earnings inequality, college major segregation is a piece of the puzzle that really stands out,” she said.

Bobbitt-Zeher also points out that people only look at the data that shows women are more likely to go to college than men and they get better grades, but they are still paid less.

10,000 cases were analyzed from the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 and the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988. Women who graduated high school in 1972 and 1992 were compared. And she compared incomes from college graduates, seven years after high school graduations (1979 and 1999).

Income gaps between men and women who went to college declined in 20 years. Women’s earnings were 78 percent of men’s earnings in 1979, and by 1999, women’s earnings were 83 percent as much as men. Findings show that their college majors could explain approximately 19 percent of the income gap between men and women who went to college.

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