A Woman’s Ph.D. Is Worth a Man’s B.A.


As a recent report finds, a woman has to have a Ph.D. to make as much as a man with a B.A. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce issued the report, “The College Payoff: Education, Opportunity, Lifetime Earnings”; the following is from the introduction:

Women earn less at all degree levels, even when they work as much as men. On average, women who work full-time, full-year earn 25 percent less than men, even at similar education levels. At all levels of educational attainment, African Americans and Latinos earn less than Whites. For example, African Americans and Latinos with Master’s degrees have lifetime earnings lower than Whites with Bachelor’s degrees.

There’s a chart from the report that clearly illustrates the disparities in women’s vs men’s lifetime earning at Think Progress. The chart also reveals that a woman with a B.A. earns about the same as a man with an Associate’s degree and also the same as a man with some college education but no degree earned. A woman with a high school diploma and a man without one make about the same amount.

All told, over their lifetimes, women with the same educational achievements as men earn about a quarter less than their male counterparts. Recent figures from the US census found that women with full-time jobs make 78.2 percent of what men earn, so the report’s findings, while not encouraging, are not entirely surprising.

The study’s authors note that their figures are based on comparing full-time, full-year workers in a single year and that the disparities they note could be even greater. If researchers had defined lifetime earnings based on all workers, including workers who have left the labor force — as many women do to have children and to take care of them — there would be “even higher gaps between the earnings of men and women because women are much more likely than men to be out of the labor force for spells of time (and thus, not regularly work full-time, full-year).”

According to recent census figures, women are now earning more graduate degrees than men. Among adults 25 and older, 10.6 million women in the US have a master’s degree or higher, compared to 10.5 million men. In addition, 20.1 million women earn a bachelor’s degree in college, as compared to 18.7 million men. Among adults 25 and older, women are also more likely than men to have finished high school, 87.6 percent to 86.6 percent.

But as the Georgetown report indicates, having more education does not pan out to more economic clout for women over time. It also doesn’t for African Americans and Latinos:

Wage disparities also are visible when lifetime earnings are examined on the basis of race or ethnicity. Historically, non-Hispanic Whites (hereafter, Whites) have had higher earnings than those of other races/ethnicities. h ere is now an exception, though, because Asians — especially highly-educated Asians — earn wages comparable to Whites. Latinos, meanwhile, have median lifetime earnings 34 percent lower than Whites across the board. African Americans make 23 percent less than Whites. A similar gap (22%) exists for Other Races/Ethnicities (Native Americans, Pacifi c Islanders, and others).

The report also states that having a college degree does pay off. Even post-secondary education adds nearly a quarter of a million dollars to one’s lifetime earnings: College, and the investment made in it, is worth it but for many, it should be worth even more.


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Photo by pthread1981


Sarah M.
Sarah M7 years ago

so infuriating, discouraging

Maresa Marangoni
Maresa Marangoni7 years ago

When looking at data one should always make sure they are set in the right contexts: eg does a man with a Bachelor's degree in nuclear physics earn more than a woman with a PhD in nuclear physics? or a man with a bachelo'rs in communication more than a woman with a PhD in communication? and so on... As it is presented in the article, this data is not sufficiently meaningful for evaluation, in my opinion

Jake R.
Jake R7 years ago

I can't agree with this, because Ph.Ds are not all of the same value. Some of them, say in history, or philosophy are nearly worthless in the marketplace outside of academia.

Denise L.
Denise L7 years ago

makes me glad my daughter is joining a trade union, all journeymen make the same rate whether they are male or female and as so many people are pursuing degrees in the belief that's the only way to get a good job there has been a decline in the number of people joining trade unions which means their wages keep going up and work is steady

Marie W.
Marie W7 years ago

Sexism is always alive and well.

Thomas A.
Thomas A7 years ago

"every company values its employees on basis of their contribution & not gender"

Hahaahahahahahahahhaaa! Oh, lord, that was funny.

What company? Where? Without a union contract, your statement is an absolute joke. What planet are you from? Why do you think we have anti-discrimination laws? Because hiring, firing, promotions and pay are race and gender biased. It's actually getting worse, as this article reports.

As a general rule, companies do not value employees. Employees are overhead, the same category as copy paper and ink cartridges - something to be minimized. We are "human capital", remember? We're not "human beings". Never have been.

Oh, and you propaganda geniuses - these reports include data that is normalized over hours worked, so the discrepancies you suspect are in fact accounted for.

Oh, and you conspiracy buffoons - there isn't one. Sorry.

Dorothy Dore
Dorothy Dore7 years ago

For a girl entering her Senior year of high school wondering what she is going to do with her life,this is slightly discouraging.

Erin Bryant
Erin Bryant7 years ago

so many sexist people

Erin Bryant
Erin Bryant7 years ago

So many sexist people out there

Erin Bryant
Erin Bryant7 years ago