Study: Gender Wage Gap Extends to New Grads, Regardless of Education Level

By Julissa Catalan

Experience and seniority have nothing to do with the gender wage gap, according to a new study.

It’s a commonly known statistic that women receive a lower wage than men, for the same job, when they are just as qualified. This Economic Policy Institute study shows that this gap starts at the very beginning of a woman’s career and only widens as people climb the ladder.

The EPI study shows a steady gender wage gap for at least the last 20 years, noting that recent high-school-graduate women, ranging from 17 to 20 years old, average $1 less an hour than men. Meanwhile, recent college-graduate females make an average of $4 an hour less than men.

“These are all young people with the same credentials, and there’s still this gender gap,” said Heidi Shierholz, an EPI economist and the lead author of the report.

The study also reveals that educational achievements make little difference in closing the gender wage gap.

Gender-gap deniers often cite reasons such as the fact that women tend to major and work in lower-paying fields as a defense, but this does not explain why there is still a pay-rate difference between men and women who work in the same field.

“It’s a conscious choice of what you want to major in, but a hell of a lot of socialization goes into that,” Shierholz said.

However, there is one benefit for women when it goes to gender sorting in the job market, according to Shierholz. Women tend to work in the health and education markets more then men. Though they are paid on the lower end of the scale, these types of jobs are less likely to face an economic decline as opposed to predominantly male-driven fields like manufacturing—meaning women are less likely to become unemployed during a recession.

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