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NextGen Magazine


Census Bureau Finds Education Widens, Rathen Than Narrows, Gendered Pay Gap

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jun 10, 2019

A report from the U.S. Census Bureau says that the pay gap between women and men with bachelor's degrees is larger than the one between those without them, according to MarketWatch. Indeed, it widens with more education. 

"Among workers with a bachelor’s degree, women earn 74 cents for every dollar men make, which is less than the 78 cents for workers without the college degree," said the report. 

The Census Bureau said that a number of factors can affect this result. One is that women with bachelor's degrees tend to be younger than men with them, with median ages of 42 to 45, which means that women have had less time to accumulate experience and pay raises. In contrast, working women without a bachelor’s degree are, on average, older than male workers without a bachelor’s (median ages of 47 vs. 45), which tends to narrow the pay gap.   

Overall, though, the gap tends to be most pronounced among those occupations that require a degree. Among physicians and surgeons, for example, the mean average compensation for men is $231,170, versus $165,485 for women. Similarly, for accountants and auditors, the mean compensation for men is $81,608 versus $65,315 for women. In contrast, compensation for bank tellers, for example, has very little difference: $27,522 versus $27,190; similarly, food prep and serving workers (including fast food) have a gap of $22,256 versus $21,656. 

The Census Bureau's conclusions are similar to those reached by a Georgetown University study from last year. It found that women with bachelor's degrees make as much as men with associate's degrees; women with master's degrees make as much as men with bachelor's degrees; and so on and so forth for each successive level of educational attainment. The phenomenon, though, tends to peter out when getting further down the ladder. Women with an associate's degree earn a median of $43,000 a year, while men with only some college education earn an average of $56,000. Women with some college earn $41,000 versus men with "certificates," who earn $48,000. Women with "certificates" earn $30,000, versus men with solely a high school education, who earn $47,000. Finally, women with just a high school diploma earn $33,000 while men who dropped out of high school earn $37,000 on median. 

This study also call to mind another study published 2017 in the journal Social Science Research, which found that women from elite colleges make about as much as men from bottom-tier schools. In the cohort interviewed 10 years after graduation, women from the most selective colleges earned an average of $62,210, while men from the least selective schools earned $63,923. In the cohort interviewed four years after graduation, it was found that women with degrees from most or highly selective colleges earned $52,293, while men from the lowest selectivity schools averaged about $55,346. In general, according to the study, women from elite colleges earned about 16 percent less than men from both elite and bottom-tier colleges.