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7 Surprising Facts About Women Who Earn Less Than Men

6 minute read

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 Salaries Men’s Salaries % Difference Brigham Young University – Idaho 24,000 61,300 155% Yeshiva University 45,500 78,700 73% Wheaton College – Illinois 38,100 62,700 65% Ohio Christian University 28,500 45,800 61% Seattle Pacific University 42,300 66,700 58% Abilene Christian University 36,700 57,300 56% Liberty University 32,900 48,900 49% Baylor University 49,000 64,900 32%

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 Salaries Men’s Salaries % Difference The Baptist College of Florida 19,600 42,700 118% Nazarene Bible College 24,400 47,200 93% Life Pacific College 26,600 43,400 63% Valley Forge Christian College 24,200 38,800 60% Lincoln Christian University 25,800 39,100 52% Cincinnati Christian University 25,700 38,700 51% Southwestern Assemblies of God University 28,700 40,300 40% College of Biblical Studies-Houston 43,500 54,000 24%

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 Salaries Men’s Salaries % Difference Georgetown University 93,800 130,700 39% Boston College 73,800 96,200 30% University of Notre Dame 73,100 101,000 38% Fordham University 57,300 78,700 37% St. John’s University – New York 57,200 64,200 12% Marquette University 56,200 73,900 31% Saint Louis University 55,000 67,400 23% Loyola University – Chicago 53,900 63,000 17% DePaul University 51,500 64,100 24% University of Dayton 50,500 66,900 32% Saint Leo University 43,400 59,400 37%

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 Salaries Men’s Salaries % Difference Brigham Young University-Provo 29,500 84,500 186% Utah Valley University 28,000 60,800 117% Utah State University 28,800 61,300 113% Southern Utah University 26,800 53,500 100% University of Utah 39,300 71,400 82% Weber State University 33,700 60,800 80% Western Governors University 36,000 64,100 78%

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 Salaries Men’s Salaries % Difference Stevens Institute of Technology 84,800 88,600 4% Polytechnic Institute of New York University 72,500 76,400 5% Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 71,600 89,800 25% Colorado School of Mines 71,400 86,700 21% Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 71,000 80,000 13% Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus 69,100 82,300 19% Kettering University 67,000 75,400 13% Worcester Polytechnic Institute 66,300 85,300 29%

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 Salaries Men’s Salaries % Difference Massachusetts Institute of Technology 93,700 151,800 62% Cornell University 80,200 106,900 33% Carnegie Mellon University 76,200 108,000 42% Rice University 73,200 88,600 21% Harvey Mudd College 71,100 91,000 28% Illinois Institute of Technology 68,000 73,200 8% Case Western Reserve University 68,000 84,100 24% New Jersey Institute of Technology 59,200 70,000 18% Clarkson University 58,600 72,700 24% California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo 55,800 73,600 32%

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 Salaries Men’s Salaries % Difference Middlebury College 57,300 109,200 91% Amherst College 62,800 112,700 79% Davidson College 58,400 91,900 57% Swarthmore College 53,500 83,900 57%

*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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