If More Women Than Men Are Graduating From College, Than Why Aren't Women Making More Money?


Women have outnumbered men on college campuses for more than two decades, but when it comes to income and job opportunities, females take home a lot less and are at a lower employment rate than their male counterparts.

New research from Legal Momentum reveals that despite superior education attainment, young women are still at a major disadvantage in the workforce. Women in the 21-30 age range are more likely to be impoverished than men their age, were much less likely to be employed full-time year-round in 2011, and less likely to be working on the day the survey was administered. In 2011, the median income for women ages 21-30 was $14,300, significantly less than the male average of $20,000. 

There's no correlation between education levels and earnings, as young men with the same level of educational attainment as women still earned 15% more. In 2011, men with bachelor's degrees took home an average annual income of $46,000, while their female counterparts earned $40,000. 

Unfortunately, the survey results aren't all that surprising or groundbreaking. Last year, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) released a report finding a nearly $8,000 annual salary gap between men and women fresh out of college, with full-time employed women earning just 82 cents out of every dollar men earned. 

"You hear in the news that [millennial] women are now out-earning their male peers, but what we found in looking at those emerging from college is that there is still a gender pay gap," Catherine Hill, director of research at AAUW, told CNN Money.

According to the AAUW findings, the gap exists because men typically gravitate toward majors that lend themselves to high salaries. Even when men and women end up in the same field, men typically take higher-paying jobs. It's also worth noting that men log in more hours than women, but even when men and women put in the same exact hours in the same job, women still received 7% less than men. 

It doesn't help when women graduate with loans either, as their out-of-college earnings are often eaten up trying to pay off debt. Four years ago, almost half of women were shelling out more than 8% of their earnings toward student loan debt, with less than 40% of men were coughing up the same amount. 

The pay gap isn't just our country's problem, either. In 2007, The Guardian published a report on the income discrepancy between men and women right after college graduation, with men earning £1,000 more than women within the first three years of leaving higher education. Catherine Benfield, who led the research project, said of the results, "Women accept that they may take a job below their expectations and work up from there. Men would rather be unemployed and searching for that perfect job. Women are more likely to be satisfied with their careers than men, though." 

Work satisfaction/contentment isn't everything though, especially for women looking to build a savings early in their careers. If women continue to put in just as many work and classroom hours as men, they're going to begin expecting equal compensation as they should. Just because women have been in college for fewer years than men historically doesn't mean companies have an excuse to be slow in hiring women or providing them fair pay.