Economics, U.S. Economy

A quick fix for the gender wage gap

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

If today’s young women want to close the wage gap, they should change their college majors. Aspiring early childhood educators or social workers should reconsider: the median earnings in these fields are $36,000 and $39,000, respectively. By contrast, petroleum engineering and metallurgy degrees promise far more money: median earnings are $120,000 and $80,000. Here is a list of the ten most remunerative majors compiled by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Note that men overwhelmingly outnumber women in all but one major.

  1. Petroleum Engineering: 87% Male
  2. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: 48% Male
  3. Mathematics and Computer Science: 67% Male
  4. Aerospace Engineering: 88% Male
  5. Chemical Engineering: 72% Male
  6. Electrical Engineering: 89% Male
  7. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: 97% Male
  8. Mechanical Engineering: 90% Male
  9. Metallurgical Engineering: 83% Male
  10. Mining and Mineral Engineering: 90% Male

And here are the 10 least remunerative majors. This time it is women who prevail in nine out of ten majors.

  1. Counseling Psychology: 74% Female
  2. Early Childhood Education: 97% Female
  3. Theology and Religious Vocations: 34% Female
  4. Human Services and Community Organization: 81% Female
  5. Social Work: 88% Female
  6. Drama and Theater Arts: 60% Female
  7. Studio Arts: 66% Female
  8. Communication Disorders Sciences and Services: 94% Female
  9. Visual and Performing Arts: 77% Female
  10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: 55% Female

There are far more women than men in college, and they earned more than 58% of college degrees this year. If large numbers of female students changed from the second group to the first, that would do far more to narrow the gap than, say, the Paycheck Fairness Act. That Act (still floundering in Congress) primarily targets the allegedly sexist practices of employers. But, as most economists will tell you, employers cannot be blamed for much or any of the gap. It is women’s choices that are the problem — beginning with their college majors.

26 thoughts on “A quick fix for the gender wage gap

  1. You fundamentally misunderstand the studies that have been done on the wage gap.

    There is a wage gap for men and women doing the same jobs, with the same qualifications and including their educations.

    Women are paid 77 cents on the dollar paid to men for the same work, same caliber of performance doing the same job with the same qualifying educations and experience in their backgrounds.

    • No Leslie, it is clear that you are the one that fundamentally misunderstands the so called wage gap, as there are exactly ZERO studies that show what you claim.

      Its just a lie that has been repeated over and over by intellectually dishonest gender activists. So either that’s what you are, or you’ve just swallowed the koolaid.

    • No Leslie, the way the wage gap is calculated is this:

      Take the earnings of all men and women who work full time. Calculate their average earned income. It’s 77 cents for women to 100 cents per men. But men work longer hours, have more credentials, choose different professions, have more uninterrupted work experience, and suffer greater risk of injury/death on the job.

    • That’s a blatant lie that has been debunked many times. It has been proven that the wage gap is a myth because they compared non-like jobs, like civil engineering to electrical engineering, and lumped in over time hours with regular earning hours. It also compared qualified men to non-qualified women. It was an utter fabrication of facts. It is you who has no fundamental understanding of the wage gap. Not even close.

  2. Leslie Schwartz,

    I feel it is you who has fundamentally misunderstood the literature.

    Why don’t you provide a link to some of these studies?

  3. The reason so many women choose early childhood education or social worker is because the course work is so easy. Most of these graduates couldn’t become engineers or computer scientists.

    • Duck Duck Goose 335
      Play-Doh Sculpture 210
      The Alphabet 321
      Shapes 240

      I don’t know seems like a pretty demanding curriculum.

    • ONE experience. I graduated with a degree in Psychology. Later, I went back to college to study engineering. Honestly, I had to work MUCH harder and longer to get the same grades in engineering. I did ok in my 1st year in engineering, and then decided I didn’t want to stick it out for another 3 years.

      But, that’s just me. Or, is it?

  4. Leslie Schwartz – read “The xx factor – how working women are creating a new society” by Alison Wolf. Full of very good solid references which will challenge your assumptions,give you a totally different perspective and teach you loads of other stuff besides.

  5. I think another one that needs to go(for the sake of bridging the gap) is alimony. Creates the need to pursue the higher paying jobs or even better, stops families from breaking up by making being a single parent less attractive.

  6. I think something to consider here is what are we doing to help women and girls be interested in or be successful in those math and science dominated majors? And what are we still doing to encourage girls and women to stick to those more traditionally female dominated professions?

    • Why do we need to be encouraged? The education is as much ours as it is for the guys.

      Female dominated usually means less demanding on time, less stress, and less danger(trades). You really don’t need to upsell that kind of job, women flock to them for those reasons.

  7. Christina Hoff Sommers is one of the most intelligent women in the world. Feminists hate her because she is exposing their propaganda. Feminists now want censorship imposed on the internet so that anything against their propaganda doesn’t see the light. Pathetic people!

  8. Where to start!?! How about: What do you mean by “major”? I see you have “Health and Medical Preparatory Programs” on there, and, yes, if one were to stop at that undergrad degree, I doubt it would get them very far. But if he or she was to take that degree and enter medical school, nursing school, dental school, etc (as I suspect most people who choose this major plan on), they would do very well financially in the long term. So yeah… do you mean undergrad major when you say “major”? And why not include a reference to the “Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce” publication that went into further detail? Seems like you might be bending whatever research you found into the obviously under-nuanced argument you are trying to make.

  9. Dr. Warren Farrell wrote a book called “Why men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap – and What Women can do about it.” It argues the same Point Dr. Sommers argues here, that women and men earn different salaries because of different choices. It adds something, however, to the debate. Dr. Farrell argues that men could be learning from women too because women tend to live more balanced lives when they put greater prices on their free time. Just a perspective.
    I also think the truth and honesty has always been the most helpful to any group out there. I hope this comment is helpful.

  10. While not a teacher myself, it pains me to see the lack of respect for those who choose to educate our children. If anyone should be more educated and have a rigorous curriculum, it should be teachers. Who do you think taught you, you self-important, ridiculous assholes. Proof positive we need more capable teachers.

  11. There really isn’t such a being as a teacher (ditto the other professions). There are good and bad teachers (individuals), with too many bad teachers because of the difficulty of helping them find another occupation (the problem of monopolies and unions). There are now many more programs in place and in the works for rewarding better teachers. Instead of insulting commenters making you look like a fool, you should laud efforts to identify the more capable teachers you mention. They would be compensated accordingly if the system weren’t so antiquated.

  12. The average IQ of people in the 10 most remunerative is in the 115-130 range, while the average IQ of people in the 10 least remunerative majors is in the 100-115 range. This helps explain why the most remunerative majors are dominated by men and why those majors are more remunerative.

    In the first case, while men and women have about the same average IQ, men are disproportionately found at the top and bottom ends of the distribution. Moreover, the discrepancy between men and women becomes more acute at the highest and lowest IQs. If the most remunerative majors require at least 115 IQ, and they draw students from the highest IQ pool, then they will be disproportionately male.

    In the second case, in absolute numbers, there are relatively few people with very high IQs. In absolute terms, there are far, far, far fewer people pursuing the 10 most remunerative majors than the 10 least. In other words, the skills and knowledge associated with the most remunerative majors are rare, while the skills and knowledge associated with the least remunerative majors are common. Even if the demand for services provided by those with the top 10 majors were halved, their majors would still be more remunerative than the least 10 majors. In other words, supply is limited, so prices (i.e. incomes) are higher.

    These two facts alone explain much, and I didn’t even touch upon how varying preferences between men and women exacerbate these differences.

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