Women Graduates Expect Lower Earnings than Men

A recent study shows that women who graduate from college expect that they will be paid less than their male counterparts. The survey, the first Collegiate Seniors’ Economic Expectation Research (SEER) Survey & Index, is compiled by Professor Charles Wilf of Duquesne University. It is intended to be administered annually to a national sample and seeks to track trends in career expectations, among other factors.

The Duquesne survey indicates that 51 percent of women and only 35 percent of men polled expect to earn under $30,000 in their first year after college. 12 percent of women and 24 percent of men expect to earn more than $50,000. The gender gap among business students is not as wide, with 56 percent of women and 67 percent of men majoring in business expecting to earn more than $50,000 in three years. These findings support data from Behind the Pay Gap, a report released last year by the American Association of University Women that found women earn 80 percent of what men make just one year after college – a gap that widens to 69 percent after ten years.

According SEER’s authors, this gender gap in expected earnings partly results from students’ choice of academic major. Women who participated in the survey tended to major in the social sciences while the men tended to major in fields like computer science and engineering. Wilf claims the gender gap as not really being a question of a glass ceiling, but that “the research shows that females simply tend to choose majors that [lead to careers] that pay less.”


BusinessWeek 6/29/08; Duquesne University Press Release; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/24/07

Support eh ERA banner