Gender Pay Gap Persists: New Female Grads Earn $7,600 Less Than Men, Report Finds

gender pay gap

The gender pay gap is an enduring fact of American life. Many say that's due to the enduring responsibilities of motherhood, which lead to women taking more time off than men to care for the kids. But according to a new report from the American Association of University Women, just a year out of college, the average woman already makes $7,600 less a year than her average male peer. Among graduates from private universities, the difference swells to a staggering $12,600.

One young woman, Katherine Fenton, directly asked Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during the second debate about what their plans were to fix the pay gap. The liberal wings of the internet quickly seized on Romney's response about "binders full of women," while the conservative wings went straight for Fenton herself, publicizing jokes about sex and drinking she wrote on her Twitter account and dubbing her a "party girl" who "hates cops." It seems the pay gap remains enough of a controversial topic that a woman who dared to ask the candidates about it gets served a good helping of harassment.

The AAUW report finds that most of the wage difference between men and women isn't to do with the "gender wage gap" in the technical sense: the difference in earnings between a man and a woman working the exact same job for the exact same hours. But even a freshly graduated woman with an identical life, major and job to a man will earn a few thousand dollars less, either because she failed to negotiate as toughly, or because discrimination robbed her of fair pay.

The "wage gap," though, is the product of this five-piece puzzle:
  • Women pick majors with less promise of fat paychecks.
  • Even with the same major, women end up working in less-well-paying fields.
  • Even in the same field, women choose -- or are pigeonholed into -- less-well-paying jobs.
  • Women work a couple of hours less.
  • Even in the same job, with the same hours, women are simply paid less money.

More: NBA Official Sues, Alleging Sex Discrimination

The report's findings are a sobering response to the recent euphoria about female advancement. Women now make up half the workforce and a majority of college students. They earn higher grades than their male classmates, and are more career-driven, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Liza Mundy calls women "The Richer Sex" and Hanna Rosin has declared "The End of Men," announcing a new economic order in which women will become the breadwinners in most American families.

But Rosin doesn't believe the wage difference means women aren't on the rise. In fact, women's economic prospects are better than men's, she told AOL Jobs, precisely because they're going into professions that are growing fast, such as nursing -- but these professions tend to pay less.

Women are also more likely to seek out work that permits greater flexibility and control over their own time. For example, men are far more likely to work in the private sector, while women dominate the nonprofit world. And just looking at social science graduates, 26 percent of men go into business or management, the report finds, compared to 11 percent of women. The female social studies student is more likely to choose a job in social services, health care and teaching.

More: Obama vs. Romney: Who Is Better For Women?

The problem isn't that women are avoiding jobs with more punishing schedules, Rosin claims. The problem is that "we penalize women too heavily for making family friendly work choices," she wrote over email. Rosin doesn't believe we should close the wage difference by having women work more, "but by having everyone work less and be more lenient."

Women have another reason to want this kind of world; according to the report, the more a woman works, the greater the wage difference becomes (women who work 50 hours a week earn $8,500 less than men who work the same amount). But it's a vision that would require a seismic cultural shift, and even then the wage difference wouldn't vanish.

Women don't just choose lower-paying jobs; the report suggests that companies may in fact relegate women to lower-paying positions that are considered more "feminine" -- such as administrative assistant rather than assistant manager, or at the cash register rather than on the sales floor. (In sales occupations, women earn 77 percent of what men do a year after graduation).

In 1992, a judge in fact found that the supermarket chain Lucky's discriminated against its female employees by routinely placing them in lower-paying positions, which the managers assumed the women preferred.

The AAUW report echos many past studies on gender and pay: Women earn way less, in every field, for lots of different reasons. According to a 2010 report from Catalyst, an organization that studies female advancement in business, women earned $4,600 less in their first job after business school than their male classmates, and this gap only widens over time.

More: The Real Reason Why Women Still Earn Less Than Men?

Just a year out from college, according to the report, the gap is even worse. The average 22-year-old female graduate, who works until she's 65, will earn $327,000 less over her lifetime than the average guy who graduated the same year, and that's if the gap didn't grow at all over time, which it does.

To counteract this, the AAUW recommends:
  • Employers publish salary ranges for each job title, giving employees a better idea of whether they're being paid fairly. (The wage gap is much less in the public sector, where pay is much more transparent).
  • Government offer more protections, like the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was blocked by Republicans in Congress earlier this year.
  • Female grads think more about their choice of major, pick a first job that pays well, ideally a union gig, and negotiate hard to ensure they get what they're worth.

Unlike the AAUW, Rosin doesn't think women should try to imitate men, however. She thinks men should imitate women, and look for more more flexible jobs. That way, families wouldn't need a lower-paid mom taking more time off, supported by a better-paid husband.

What do you think? How do you think women and men should close the gender pay gap?

Community Sound Off: Todd Akin Weighs in on Gender Pay Gap

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Well, this is just an out an out lie, by HP. They are not comparing wages and equivalent hours worked.

December 17 2012 at 5:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's time to address and close another gender gap: male Americans account for 92% of workplace fatalities and the vast majority of serious, disabling work-related injuries. The complained-of gender gap in pay will close to the extent women are willing to similarly risk their lives in hazardous jobs.

October 25 2012 at 10:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Everytime I see this, I look for how they come to this conclusion. As far as I can see everyone uses the same data. The total pay for all men averaged and the total pay for all women averaged, then compare the two averages the mens avaerage is higher, so the conclusion is that women are paid less. I would agree if the data was compared to women and men in the same jobs, but women are more likely to be in jobs like daycare, teaching and / or work a part time job......let's compare it properly before we deem it an injustice and cause once again our leaders to create laws for something that is not correct.

October 25 2012 at 9:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I think one of the major reason why women are often paid less then men has more to do witht he fact that women are typically more willing ot settle for less pay in exchange for what they see as long term stability. Whereas men are more wiling to refuse to settle for less money and are less hessitant to leave a job for greener pastures.

NOBODY is more responcible in this day and age for your hiring salary then you are. It is one of the things you negotiate when you get hired. If your willing to settle for less to start with. Its nobodies fault but your own

October 25 2012 at 7:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Another lame and inaccurate 'report' or 'study', or whatever 'piece' of work you want to call it...According to the criteria and results there is no 'gender' gap or pay gap. The difference in pay is based and real in some cases due to the choices people make and jobs they qualify for...To say otherwise is simply retarded thinking (look it up before crying or taking offense as it is thinking that is SET BACK to a different time previous)...

* Women pick majors with less promise of fat paychecks.
* Even with the same major, women end up working in less-well-paying fields.
* Even in the same field, women choose -- or are pigeonholed into -- less-well-paying jobs.
* Women work a couple of hours less.
* Even in the same job, with the same hours, women are simply paid less money. **In many other studies this is factually NOT TRUE as a rule and in fact just as often a woman makes more money than her male counterpart. Job duration and other factors must be considered and yet often are not.
The liberal bent of society seem to never run out of causes or complaints that suit their whimsy and/or desire to take away all measure of accountability and responsibility for one's decisions in life...What a shame we all have to hear their continued drivel as well as their endless remedies...

October 25 2012 at 1:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm a guy and when I graduated from college it took me two years to find my first job; where most females I graduated with -- it took them six months to a year to find their first job after college. Further, I was paid -- before being laid-off -- around $28,000 a year and most of the females that landed their first job 6 mos-yr were paid anywhere from $32,000 up to $36,000 to start. So all this talk and studies of a "gender gap" and how women get paid less than men is 100% BS! Oh, need I go on to say about reverse discrimination! Or shall I say how tacky women can be towards each other. I never in my life experienced such rudeness from most of the women coworkers I worked with and how I seen how they were towards each other at the office-- you talk about drama -- it was WW3 at the office on some days. Though it's sad to say that these studies will never go away and would always put the female worker as the victim, which only increases their anxiety that they'll never be better off than men.

October 25 2012 at 1:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you combine this report, with the expose done on The Anderson Cooper show, showing how men paid significantly less for exact same services as women, you get a bigger and more clear picture of "The Gender Gap". And don't even get me started on the difference in cost for men vs. women with car purchasing and -GULP!!- car repair. It is not a fair place to be a woman here, but it is still better than many places in the world. With Romney in power...i shudder to think...((If only Hillary Clinton would not have taken obama's buyoff....)) Well, a girl can dream!!

October 24 2012 at 11:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lets not forget Romney feels women need to be home from work to make dinner. If Romney wins, god forbid, I am going into business making dresses and aprons like the ones from Leave it to Beaver. Oh and high heels as well. And of course the dresses will be for woman with a 15 inch waist. That way when their man comes home he has a hot meal and a woman all done up in a dress from the 50's on after all that is where women will be under R-money

October 24 2012 at 10:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dxl504's comment

You do realise that one of the main reasons for lower average salaries for everyone is the increased number of women in the workplace wanting careers. Its simple supply and demand economics. with more people available in the workforce competing for the same jobs Companies are able to hire for less.

Whereas when women stayed home there were more jobs available for less people. Thus salaries were higher as it was the companies that needed the workers morso then the workers that needed the jobs. Now. so many people are in the workforce. then both men and women more or less have to work.

In the end. Its our children who suffer

October 25 2012 at 7:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a woman, i must say, i don't think women will ever be equal. even in history books, since the dawn of time, women weren't and aren't considered equal. in fact, i don't think true "equality" exist. So what i do is simply work as hard as i can, speak up when i need too but in the back of my mind, i don't think its possible.

October 24 2012 at 9:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Just one more reason to vote for President Obama. So many good reasons to vote for him, so few reasons to trust Romney. LOL

October 24 2012 at 8:38 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mark's comment

You do know that most of the jobs Obama has "created" are low wage jobs right?
60% in fact where as 20% were mid level wages.
By comparison 60% of the jobs lost under obama were mid level wages.

Dont take my word for it though. But certainly dont take the DNCs or GOPs word for it. Look it up.
CNN just did peice on this the other day

October 25 2012 at 7:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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