These College Majors Pay Women the Least

Women remain concentrated in college majors that pay the least, say education experts.

“Women [are] still concentrated in college majors that are the least paying,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, research professor and director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce at a recent educator’s conference.

Anthony Carnevale

Those college majors include early childhood education, medical assistance, student counseling, communication disorders, library sciences, nursing and nutrition.

Conversely, men are concentrated in the higher-paying fields of naval architecture, and mechanical, electrical and nuclear engineering.

Early childhood education is the major with the highest proportion of women (97 percent) but it is also with the second lowest-paying bachelor’s degree major with a median earnings of $36,000, according to the Economic Value of College Majors by  Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Communication disorders sciences and services has the fourth-highest concentration of women (94 percent), and is among the 10 lowest-paying bachelor’s degree with a median earning of $40,000, according to the report.

Economic Value of College Majors by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

The majors in which women are most heavily concentrated are almost exclusively in education and health, the report said.

However, in eight of the 10 highest-paying college majors, men represented more than 80 percent of college graduates in those fields, according to AEIdea’s analysis of a Glassdoor report released in October 2016.

Economic Value of College Majors by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

“Conformity to social expectations, gender stereotypes, gender roles and lack of role models continue to channel girls’ career choices away from STEM fields,” psychology professor Martin Bauer of the London School of Economics told CNN Money.

Yves Salomon-Fernandez

“People have their stereotype and expectations of what a woman leader should be,” said Yves Salomon-Fernandez, president of Cumberland County College in New Jersey, at the Association of College Educators at their annual meeting in Washington D.C. last week.

“I am expected to be warmer, lovey-dovey, and touch-feely, which truly isn’t my perspective,” Salomon-Fernandez said.

“When women act in ways that are consistent of stereotypes, they are viewed as less confident leaders. When we act in ways that are inconsistent of stereotypes, we are considered unfeminine,” said Margaret L. Drugovich, president of Hartwick College in Oneota, New York, at the ACE meet.

Margaret L. Drugovich

“Women leaders are subjected to have higher confidence standards, and, unfortunately, we have to prove our confidence over and over again.”

Globally, women make up only 28 percent of people working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, according to statistics from UNESCO in 2015. Even in North America and Western Europe, women make up only 32 percent in STEM careers, according to the statistics.

Studies have found that when women gain a greater share of traditional men’s careers, wages go down.

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Elly Yijin Kim

2 comments

  1. Interesting issues you have raised with this article, Elly Kim! I do have some thoughts on it….

    “Studies have found that when women gain a greater share of traditional men’s careers, wages go down.”

    The line above is the closing line of the article and if it is statistically true, then maybe this is also the crux of the matter – that anything associated as having “female equity,” somehow reduces its significance and value. And so – Wow! What a profoundly alarming concept! Maybe we need to start right here in discussing the article”s headline.

    Yes, females should be encouraged to channel their interests and acumen in STEM areas just as much as males are. But if that closing line is true, then won’t females in STEM still risk pay inequality and perhaps even be accused of causing a reduction in the “prominence” and pay associated with STEM jobs?

    Perhaps another thing to consider is this — These “soft” professional fields should hold more prominence in US society and should offer higher pay than they currently offer. This is one reason males will not pursue these “soft” field. Yet their presence would surely offer an added dimension to the field – and possibly to their roles at home and in the wider society.

    I think there is so much to unpack, but I will stop here…

    Thanks again for this very important issue.

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