Pay Inequity For Women Starts In First Job

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The American Association of University Women just released a report about how the pay gap between men and women starts in their very first job, after evaluating data about people who graduated from college in 2008, and what they were earning in a full-time job in 2009.

One year out of school, women’s average salary was $35,296, and men’s was $42,918.

Much of that difference can be explained by major choices — engineering and computer science are higher paying fields, and are highly male dominated, while education and social services are low paying, and are female dominated.

 ” But college major is not the full story,” the report notes. “One year after graduation, a pay gap exists between women and men who majored in the same field. Among business majors, for example, women earned just over $38,000, while men earned just over $45,000.”
Even when controlling for field, occupation and the number of hours worked (men were working 45 hours on average, women, 43), there was still a 7 percent gap, the report said.

The authors believe it comes from two sources  — discrimination, including subconscious biases, and women’s passivity in negotiating for salary at the time of hire.

The organization offers negotiating seminars for women at colleges around the country, including University of Connecticut, Eastern Connecticut State and other schools, called $tart $mart.

The report notes that some people are skeptical of the pay inequities, and that secrecy around pay contributes to the problem. (This was the issue at the heart of the Lily Ledbetter Act, an issue in the second presidential debate, which spawned the ‘Binders of Women’ meme).

“Employees rarely know if they are paid fairly because they do not know what their colleagues or others in the industry earn,” the report says. “Nearly half of all workers nationally are either forbidden or strongly discouraged from discussing their pay with colleagues.”

There are fields that are less likely to have pay gaps. They include nursing, engineering, computer science, social services and life science jobs.

In another report on gender and pay, released Thursday, the National Women’s Law Center reported Census data on wages by state, and ranked each state by its gender gap. Connecticut fell right in the middle, at 25  — half of  women who worked full-time earned less than $47,476 last year; the mid-point for male salaries was $60,705.

Because there are more high-earning men, using the average, rather than mid-point, makes the difference more stark — the average Connecticut woman made $58,918 and the average man made $85,596 last year.

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