Nurse Blog: Why Is a Woman's Salary Lower Than a Man's?
Monster Nurse Blog
January 28, 2008
April 22nd is Equal Pay Day, and new research by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation shows that just one year out of college, women working full-time earn only 80 percent of their male colleagues’ salaries, even when they work in the same field. Ten years after graduation, the pay gap widens, with women earning 69 percent of what men earn.
The findings confound me. I’ve always attributed the gap primarily to women’s career tracks; they’re more likely to work part-time and take time out of the workforce to raise children. This study suggests I should think again. Even after adjusting for hours worked, occupation, parenthood and other factors known to affect earnings, the study found that one-quarter of the pay gap between men and women remains unexplained.
I can’t help but think about my two nieces who will be enrolling in college in September. The sad fact is that no matter how well they perform, they’ll probably earn less than their male peers. Both my nieces are going to top-tier schools; one is attending one of the most competitive in the country. But the study reports that even women who attended highly selective colleges earn less than men from either highly or moderately selective colleges and about the same as men from minimally selective colleges.
The study says sex discrimination is at play. It must be. But I also wonder: Does strong academic performance suggest that young women have too strong a desire to please both in the classroom and at the negotiating table? Are we not instilling in our girls enough of a sense of their own worth?
No matter how I slice it, I come out deeply concerned, not only for our young women but also for our society as a whole. The fact is that in college, women outperform men — earning slightly higher GPAs than men in every college major, including science and mathematics. Imagine if we let them reach their potential outside the classroom. Now think about how we can make that happen.