But AAUW researchers decided to look at workers when they are most similar — freshly done with their undergraduate studies, lacking vast experience and unlikely to have spouses or children. They focused on graduates during the 2007-08 school year and zeroed in on full-time workers to research what they earned in 2009, one year after graduation.
The women made only 82 percent of what the men were paid, with the average woman making $35,296 while men were paid an average of $42,918, Johnson writes.
And before you argue that maybe men went into higher-paying fields consider this, as Johnson points out: “The overall gap — the 18-percentage-point disparity — could be explained by career choices; men are more likely to enter high-paying fields such as engineering and computer science. The researchers controlled for that, along with other variables, but an ‘unexplained’ 6.6-percentage-point gap remained.”
“This pay gap is not merely the result of women’s choices,” researchers Christianne Corbett and Catherine Hill wrote in their report, “Graduating to a Pay Gap.” “Lower earnings have an immediate effect after college, setting into motion a chain of disparities that will follow women throughout their careers.”
So the Color of Money Question of the Week: What do you think of the long-standing pay gap between men and women? Send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Graduating to a Pay Gap” in the subject line and include your full name, city and state.
Binders Full of Women
During the second debate, President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney talked about women in the workplace.
So, for last week’s Color of Money Question, I asked: “How well did the candidates answer the question about unequal pay in the workplace?”
Here’s what some of you had to say:
“Romney’s comments on gender and pay inequality sounded to me like a cop out,” wrote Jennifer C. of Brooklyn. “From what I heard from him, he will leave employers in the position to create their own pay scales and schedules for women. This means that he trusts businesses to make this sea change themselves, without encouragement. If he believes that most companies will elect to pay women more without the force of regulation, then I believe he is very wrong. Businesses both small and large do not typically take it upon themselves to give more than is required of them by law, whether that is in the form of increased salary or better workplace flexibility for women. Obama’s [signing of the] Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act shows that he’s already been working on and making some progress on these issues, and, as a voter, I place great value on that.”