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Study Says Pay Gap Starts Early

Study Says Pay Gap Starts Early


The American Association of University Women has recently released a study that suggests that the gender pay gap starts early in women’s careers, often before they even enter the workforce. This finding is significant as it highlights the need for action to address this issue at a young age.

Background on the Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap has been a contentious issue for decades, with women earning less than their male counterparts for doing the same job. It is a complex issue with many contributing factors, including discrimination, lack of access to education and training, and societal expectations.

Study Findings

The American Association of University Women’s study found that women’s earnings are impacted by a variety of factors early in their careers, including the major they choose in college, their first job out of college, and the amount of student debt they carry. Women’s earnings are also affected by the gender pay gap that exists in their chosen field.

Implications for Women in the Workforce

The findings of this study have significant implications for women in the workforce, suggesting that they are already at a disadvantage when they first start their careers. This means that the gender pay gap is not just a problem for women in mid-career or later, but is an issue that affects women from the beginning of their working lives.

Action Needed

In light of these findings, it is crucial that action is taken to address the gender pay gap. This includes efforts to eliminate discrimination in the workplace, increasing access to education and training, and supporting women in their careers. Employers can also take steps to ensure that they are paying their employees fairly and without regard to gender.


The study by the American Association of University Women highlights the need for action to address the gender pay gap, which starts early in women’s careers. It is crucial that efforts are made to eliminate discrimination and support women in their careers, as well as increasing access to education and training. Addressing the gender pay gap is not just a women’s issue, it is an issue that affects us all and requires a coordinated effort to solve.

The topic of a gender pay gap is hotly contested at the national political level.  Recently, the Paycheck Fairness Act was championed by Democrats in the House and Senate, but was opposed by Republicans and eventually blocked.  According to a recent study by the American Association of University Women, the pay gap is still a problem—and it starts earlier than most people think.

According to the AAUW’s study, women are paid significantly less than men as soon as one year after college graduation.  While some opponents of paycheck fairness legislation have argued that this gap is due to a difference in professions for men and women, the study shows that this is not the case.

While in some professional fields—like education, math, biology, humanities, and healthcare—men and women were paid about the same, in others the difference was marked.  While a male graduate of an engineering program can expect to make about $55,000 a year after graduation, his female counterpart would make around $48,500.

Similarly, male business majors earned about $7,000 more than female business majors, and another $7,000 gap in favor of men existed in the social sciences.  The starkest contrast was in the field of computer and information sciences.  Women in that field can expect to make just $39,000 a year after graduating from college.  Men make over $51,000—a difference of $12,000 that studies indicate becomes even bigger as men and women continue in the workforce.

The study shows a difference in women’s wages that cannot be explained by maternity leave or childcare responsibilities.  Because the survey was taken just a year after graduation, it is also not affected as much by differing requests for raises.

One of the most significant impacts of this pay difference, according to the AAUW, is that university educated women have more difficulty than men in paying their federal student loans.  Women’s paychecks take a bigger hit from loans, and more women default on their student loans than men.

The fields that have the most significant pay difference for women are also the fields that tend to attract the fewest women, suggesting that institutional discrimination in salary and job advancement may be contributing to women’s lower rates of entry into those majors.

The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, passed into law in 2009, allows American women greater ability to sue employers who are paying people less based on their gender.  This legislation has prompted a new look at creating new laws that can help women get a fair shake in the workplace.

Sources: eeoc.gov, aauw.org, house.gov