Women Have More Diplomas, Still Earn Less

There is some good news coming out of the latest census, and I don’t just mean the fact that Texas may be losing a congressional seat

No, according to new records as the census is being returned, women are now earning just as many advanced degrees as men these days.

Among adults 25 and older, 29 percent of women in the U.S. have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30 percent of men, according to 2009 census figures released Tuesday. Measured by raw numbers, women already surpass men in undergraduate degrees by roughly 1.2 million.

Women also have drawn even with men in holding advanced degrees. Women represented roughly half of those in the U.S. with a master’s degree or higher, due largely to years of steady increases in women opting to pursue a medical or law degree.

At current rates, women could pass men in total advanced degrees this year, even though they still trail significantly in several categories such as business, science and engineering.

“It won’t be long before women dominate higher education and every degree level up to Ph.D.,” said Mark Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint who is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank. “They are getting the skills that will protect them from future downturn

Unfortunately, just because we are getting more of the degrees, and starting to dominate some levels of education, that doesn’t translate to higher earning.

Women with full-time jobs now have weekly earnings equal to 80.2 percent of what men earn, up slightly from 2008 but lower than a high of 81 percent in 2005.

“I don’t know if we can be heartened by the educational gains, because it is persistent wage discrimination that is driving women to get a higher education,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. “As more women enter the workplace, I think they will realize the unfairness of the situation they’re experiencing and demand change.”

Demanding change is a noble charge, but how exactly does one do it?  We’ve known for decades now that women make less than male counterparts, yet there has been little done to fix this issue.  True, we have made advances via instances like the Lilly Ledbetter Act, but the Paycheck Fairness Act is still stalled in the Senate, making gender discrimination in pay still hard to prosecute.

Will the great Wal-Mart gender discrimination suit finally be the Waterloo that will make employers see that paying women less and not allowing them access to the same promotions and opportunities male employees receive is a punishable offense? 

One can only hope so.

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Inez Deborah Altar

Women are affected by their cycles, in the years after age 40, and by pregnancy that may affect employers´ standards, I still think "equal pay for equal work"

Jen Kae
Jen Kae7 years ago

Excellent pont, Johan! Additionally, women need to look ahead to the probability that they will be supporting the household longer. I have heard that most women will outlive their husbands/partners. Who will pay the majority of the bills then? When you have a job and you stop working, what happens to your income?

There's a reason most psychics, soothsayers, and healers are depicted as women. Even ancient cultures have ideas that women have mysteriousness and wisdom. It is important to exercise that and plan a second or even third string of income. Perhaps a business from home that is truly legit and is performing very well on the NYSE? Something to think about -- keeping your present job if you wish but having extra income as well without a huge strain on time..

johan l.
paul l7 years ago

Let's start off by saying that diplomas don't mean a thing!
It only goes to show prospective employers that you are not dumb!
It is only through practical experience that your salary will in the long run, be determined!
Of course it is completely unfair that a woman with identical or more diplomas should get a starting salary that is less than of her male counterpart.
You have to do more, ladies!
Vote more women into congress and let them fight for you!
We already know all about Wal-Mart, but there much be thousands of other businesses that have the same unfair labour practices!

Jen Kae
Jen Kae7 years ago

I hope that I can use my business as a way to help them have a higher income and better options to control their own life. As a woman, I look out for other women, and I know when my millions come in, I will devote much of it to helping to solve some of these problems.

Megan S.
Megan S7 years ago

Many women will go to college just to become stay at home moms when/if they have kids,
women also live a considerable amount longer than men, so more women are in retirement than men, so wouldn't there be a lot more 0s being averaged in?

Still, it's stupid, equal pay for equal work!
Walmart pays unfairly, or at least a one around here did, then they got sued :)

Every women should compare her salary with a male co-worker to make sure she is gettng the same!

Michael Motta
Michael Motta7 years ago

Some info regarding majors and income (for what it's worth):

Jen Kae
Jen Kae7 years ago

Morgan, interesting take on "residual" for me that means the money the company I am associated with will pay me year after year as long as my customers are active. If I die, they'll pay my estate.

Georgina J.
Georgina B7 years ago

Please excuse my typo's..my keys seem to be sticking together sometimes...lol..need to clean my keyboard!

Georgina J.
Georgina B7 years ago

Just my 2 cents: If a Woman is doing the same work as a Man,
and just as good at it, then, she should be getting the same amount of pay!
So, the covers any field that they may be in. Whether it be a
minimum wage job, or contruction, Military, Dr., Nursing,
With further education or not..some people get a Degree
and don't know how to use it..so, it just hangs on the wall
as a 'see what I got'.
Thanks, very interesting article, Robin Marty.

Judith H.

This has been argued for years and years now, and it still hasn't changed all that much. Fortunately I chose nursing where gender doesn't affect pay all that much, just opportunities. Male graduates from nursing school are offered higher paying management jobs immediately before graduating. Otherwise the pay is the same. When working for government, the nurses were paid more than sanitarians (usually males filled these positions) and social workers (many males in this role these days). The nurses were organized in a union which made a huge difference. Unions can help correct this problem, but most professionals do not have unions.
Sam's Club, which is part of Wal-Mart, said that their employees can chose to belong to a union, but did say that they have no union. I read that if anyone mentions the word they get fired. For non-degreed, hourly paid jobs unions would fix this fast. Being from Michigan and family members who belonged to unions, I am pro union.
Otherwise, we need The Paycheck Fairness Act to pass. Call your Senators to support this legislations.