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7 Surprising Facts About Women Who Earn Less Than Men

The federal government’s Department of Education recently released its College Scorecard. It offered detailed information about college graduation rates, student aid debt accrued, repayment rates, and post-college earnings. While data detailing the extraordinary wages of those who attended Ivy League universities got most of the attention, the results also reveal important insights with regard to gender differences and earnings. Here are seven of the most interesting insights.* For a list of colleges where female graduates are out-earning their male peers, click here.

1. Colleges with religious affiliations can have the biggest gender gaps

Men earn nearly 30% more than women on average, 10 years after entering college. Colleges with religious affiliations often have gaps between women’s salaries and men’s that far exceed that. Just as the selection of majors certainly influences men’s and women’s salaries, the size and persistence of these large gaps is hard to ignore and may speak to something about the students who choose to attend one of these schools. The following table represents a selection of prominent, church-affiliated colleges.

Women's SalariesMen's Salaries% Difference
Brigham Young University - Idaho24,00061,300155%
Yeshiva University45,50078,70073%
Wheaton College - Illinois38,10062,70065%
Ohio Christian University28,50045,80061%
Seattle Pacific University42,30066,70058%
Abilene Christian University36,70057,30056%
Liberty University32,90048,90049%
Baylor University49,00064,90032%

2. Pursuing a religious vocation

At schools where the emphasis is on preparation for the ministry, the wage gap can be particularly acute. Men can earn twice what their female counterparts do. Moreover, many women earn less than a typical high school graduate. The College of Biblical Studies in Houston is a notable exception. Some examples are given below.

Women's SalariesMen's Salaries% Difference
The Baptist College of Florida19,60042,700118%
Nazarene Bible College24,40047,20093%
Life Pacific College26,60043,40063%
Valley Forge Christian College24,20038,80060%
Lincoln Christian University25,80039,10052%
Cincinnati Christian University25,70038,70051%
Southwestern Assemblies of God University28,70040,30040%
College of Biblical Studies-Houston43,50054,00024%

3. Roman Catholic universities and the gender gap

While universities with a religious affiliation can have large gaps, and Catholic universities are no exception, there is good news for women. Women who attended the largest Catholic schools earn, on average, very good wages. Georgetown University has women and men’s salaries that closely resemble those of top Ivy League schools. The following is a table of the largest Catholic universities, where over 106,000 undergraduates are educated every year.

Women's SalariesMen's Salaries% Difference
Georgetown University93,800130,70039%
Boston College73,80096,20030%
University of Notre Dame73,100101,00038%
Fordham University57,30078,70037%
St. John's University - New York57,20064,20012%
Marquette University56,20073,90031%
Saint Louis University55,00067,40023%
Loyola University - Chicago53,90063,00017%
DePaul University51,50064,10024%
University of Dayton50,50066,90032%
Saint Leo University43,40059,40037%

4. And then there’s Utah.

There are many universities where men substantially out earn women. A shocking number of the largest wage gaps are located in Utah. The men of Brigham Young – Provo earn almost three times more than their female counterparts. This disparity holds true at public and private schools throughout the state. Mormons represent 63% of Utah’s population. The state’s residents marry younger and have more children than people elsewhere in the country. As BYU sociologists Tim Heaton and Cardell Jacobson wrote in The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism, Mormon wives are less likely to have full time employment outside of the home. This puts additional pressure on the husbands to be breadwinners. The seven schools in the table below are the largest in the state, and they educate over 154,000 undergraduates every year.

Women's SalariesMen's Salaries% Difference
Brigham Young University-Provo29,50084,500186%
Utah Valley University28,00060,800117%
Utah State University28,80061,300113%
Southern Utah University26,80053,500100%
University of Utah39,30071,40082%
Weber State University33,70060,80080%
Western Governors University36,00064,10078%

5. Engineering is good for women’s pay but female engineers still trail their male peers

The starting salaries for engineering graduates are among the highest, and this is reflected in the strong average salaries of the men and women alike who attended schools where more than half the degrees awarded are in engineering. The salary gap between men and women is modest to minimal at Stevens Institute of Technology, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Kettering University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. However, the gap persists because women are particularly underrepresented in disciplines like electrical and computer engineering where the pay is among the highest in engineering. Instead, women are drawn to fields like biomedical and industrial engineering where the pay is somewhat lower. The following colleges have the highest women’s salaries in this category.

Women's SalariesMen's Salaries% Difference
Stevens Institute of Technology84,80088,6004%
Polytechnic Institute of New York University72,50076,4005%
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute71,60089,80025%
Colorado School of Mines71,40086,70021%
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology71,00080,00013%
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus69,10082,30019%
Kettering University67,00075,40013%
Worcester Polytechnic Institute66,30085,30029%

6. Women who study in STEM programs out-earn most men (if not their male peers).

Engineers don’t have a monopoly on high wages. Although there’s a large disparity between the earnings of men and women from schools like MIT and Carnegie Mellon, parents should not despair for their daughters. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs are extremely valuable. Women who have attended these schools, where a broad STEM curriculum is offered and over half the students earn STEM degrees, will have salaries more than most men. Just not necessarily more than their male classmates.

Women's SalariesMen's Salaries% Difference
Massachusetts Institute of Technology93,700151,80062%
Cornell University80,200106,90033%
Carnegie Mellon University76,200108,00042%
Rice University73,20088,60021%
Harvey Mudd College71,10091,00028%
Illinois Institute of Technology68,00073,2008%
Case Western Reserve University68,00084,10024%
New Jersey Institute of Technology59,20070,00018%
Clarkson University58,60072,70024%
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo55,80073,60032%

7. Selective liberal arts colleges remain a path to Wall Street for men.

Elite liberal arts schools often mimic the Ivies, where there are enormous salary differences between their men and women alumni. These schools don’t have engineering programs to explain the high salaries of their male graduates. Instead, they offer interested students – who skew male – a well-trod path into finance.

Women's SalariesMen's Salaries% Difference
Middlebury College57,300109,20091%
Amherst College62,800112,70079%
Davidson College58,40091,90057%
Swarthmore College53,50083,90057%

*The numbers above are the most recent, and are for salaries 10 years after entering a four-year college, or at a point where careers are presumed to be established. The percent differences in salaries are all taken with respect to women’s salaries. These results are only for schools where data are available.

Jane E. Boon, Ph.D. is a graduate student at Fordham University.
Chaitra H. Nagaraja, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Management Systems at Fordham University.

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