Gender Wage Gap: Are College Major Choices to Blame?
Today’s post is by Maria Rainier.
The reason women generally get paid less than men in the workforce may have (a little) less to do with discrimination and (a little) more to do with the fields we choose to pursue.
Think about it. It’s pretty common knowledge that writers don’t get paid very much. The median salary of someone who majored in English is $51,996.98. When you cross-reference data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Digest of Educational Statistics, you see that English is a predominantly female-dominated major with a ratio is 32 men to 68 women. Women who have undergone training in real estate have closed the gap somewhat when compared with their male counterparts. Meanwhile, everyone knows that aviators are loaded–$123,228.48 loaded. Aviation is a male-dominated field with 88 men to 12 women.
Arguably, it may be historical discrimination and social conditioning that explain why women lean toward education, the arts, and other poorly paid occupations while men more often graduate with high-paying business and engineering degrees. On the other hand, gender discrimination may be harder at work than ever in our decision to pay men with “important” jobs like business and computer science higher wages than women in “softer” fields like medicine and sociology. Then again, it could be that genders tend to function differently and part of the wage gap isn’t about discrimination but simply about what makes more money. Whatever the case, it’s a notable twist to the usual gender wage gap discussion.