Kay Steiger

Chart of the Day: The Most Depressing Pay Gap Statistic You’ve Seen Today

with 68 comments

This is from the most recent report [PDF] from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, “The College Payoff: Education, Opportunity, Lifetime Earnings.” Just in case you missed that red text on the chart, here it is for you in black and white: “Women have to have a PhD to make as much as men with a BA.”

The study also starts off by noting, “The findings are stark: Women earn less at all degree levels, even when they work as much as men. On average, women who work full-time, full-year earn 25 percent less than men, even at similar education levels. At all levels of educational attainment, African Americans and Latinos earn less than Whites.”

Oh, and in case you were wondering if getting a college degree is worth it, “Having some postsecondary education, even without earning a degree, adds nearly onequarter of a million dollars to lifetime earnings,” the study says.

Written by kaysteiger

August 5, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Posted in higher education

Tagged with ,

68 Responses

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  1. I wish someone would do a study of pay disparity for positions that have salaries determined by women. I can see how a big racist boss might demand a discount for hiring, say, a black person in mid-twentieth century Georgia (or today). But how does this work with women in 2011? Does this happen at the negotiation stage? Does it happen at the job offer stage? An HR person (a part of organizations I would bet are disproportionately controlled by women) consciously or unconsciously demands a discount to hire a woman? And how could that be unconscious for very long? And if it is conscious hard core sexism, why haven’t I met those people yet? Given the huge quantity of data involved here, these hardcore male and female sexists must be everywhere. I’m flabbergasted. Maybe it’s “institutional” sexism. So is my experience representative, and we have all of these racist and sexist institutions filled by non-racist and non-sexist individuals? Wacky stuff. I think I’ll give my female employees a big bonus this year as well as some almonds, cake and juice.


    August 6, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    • I read an article a while back that did a survey of college students seeking jobs. Males overestimated the salary they thought they deserved, on avg by 10-20%, while females underestimated themselves by 10-0%.

      The proposed explanation was that, for whatever culturally-imparted or biological reasons, males are conditioned to be more accepting of risk, while females tend to either play it safe or rationally and fairly assess themselves and others. So men ask for more than they’re worth, and bargain down from there, keeping at least a portion of what they over-ask; women make or take offers starting from where they’re worth. The gender discrepancy is compounded over a lifetime of salary wage and raise negotiations, resulting in roughly this infographic.

      I’ve read elsewhere that females have a higher rate of insecurity throughout K-12. While that may be another cultural contributing factor, it wasn’t part of the article I read on salary surveys.

      This is not to say that EVERYONE is like this. It’s merely statistically more likely in either direction.

      So some guiding ideas are to raise boys to be more objective in their self-assessments, and girls to be confident (via positive and constructive skill-development opportunities). Clearly, both objectivity and confidence / skill building are valuable regardless of gender.

      But if someone wants to address each gender’s potential weak spots, these are possible areas of focus. Actual individual instruction depends on each student’s particular needs and strengths.


      August 10, 2011 at 1:14 PM

      • You state that Males overestimated the salary they thought they deserved. I would like to see a link to this study, if you have it. I don’t know how you would determine how much someone deserves to make, in a capitalist society, it seems to me that you deserve to make exactly what someone else is willing to pay you. If we go from that, than it seems that men are just better negotiators, and that the solution isn’t to train men to think they’re worth less than they currently think they are, but instead to teach women to start negotiations from a position of strength.


        August 11, 2011 at 12:43 PM

  2. Oh sweet jesus, that chart (and I went to the actual article to make sure) is not corrected for the sort of degree. So a doctorate in gender studies pays as much as a masters in computer science? Sounds right to me.


    August 6, 2011 at 4:33 PM

  3. […] This post was Twitted by wilywoman […]

    Twitted by wilywoman

    August 6, 2011 at 5:11 PM

  4. […] Depressing stat of the week: “Women have to have a PhD to make as much as men with a BA.” […]

    Weekly Feminist Reader

    August 7, 2011 at 1:35 PM

  5. I don’t know. This study seems fishy to me, especially this line here: “Having some postsecondary education, even without earning a degree, adds nearly onequarter of a million dollars to lifetime earnings,”


    August 7, 2011 at 3:29 PM

  6. […] Depressing stat of the week: “Women have to have a PhD to make as much as men with a BA.” […]

  7. Correct me if I’m wrong (I have given the original study just a quick review), but the chart controls for factors of degree earned, hours worked, and taking time off from the workforce. I’d like to see if other factors affected the results, such as the specific position held, the type of employer, etc. I suspect the results would still show unequal pay but less so. I’ve known many women (and far less men) who earn degrees and then work for charities and other organizations without the resources to pay well.

    Randall Williamson

    August 7, 2011 at 4:50 PM

  8. Apples to oranges. The higher ratio of females to males in soft majors like communications or psychology means that there’s no reason why anyone should expect males and females, on aggregate, to make the same amount of money. If one group of male BA’s consists of 3 engineers, one musician and an mathematician, while a comparable group of girls with BA’s consists of a nurse and 4 communication majors, the males are going to net much more.

    Im right

    August 7, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    • The fact that you called them “girls” instead of “women” or “ladies” or even just “females” clearly shows your degrading attitude towards women. Even when controlled for the type of degree, studies done /since World War II/, when women began joining the workforce in ever-increasing numbers, show that women are paid less than men. Discounting one chart because it’s sloppily-made does not suddenly invalidate the hundreds of studies by various institutions that all show the exact same numbers.

      Try again, misogynist.

      Kat B (@TranceGemini613)

      August 10, 2011 at 1:41 PM

      • Where was the misogyny again?

        Remember, misogyny means hatred of women. It does not mean someone who uses the term “girls” even though you’d prefer the term “ladies”.

        He might have been confused by the fact that so many women use “girls” instead of “women”.

        Throwing out the word “misogyny” when it doesn’t apply means you are either misinformed or deliberately fomenting hatred towards men. That would be misandry btw.


        August 11, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    • A lot of people have mentioned that the field of study or profession discrepencies between genders may account for much of this gap. I think it is important to realize that many fields that were once male dominated but are now female dominated have seen a decrease in perceived value (and pay) after that shift. I am afraid I don’t have a link to my source, I read it ages ago, but I can say that in my opinion many female-dominated fields are less valued. Whether that is BECAUSE they are female dominated, or whether women are drawn to these fields despite the fact that they are less valued, both reasons can be considered a symptom of a patriarchal and sexist society. Is this chart accurate? I can’t say. It may be exaggerated, but I would be surprised if there was not still a gender gap of some sort.


      August 11, 2011 at 8:51 PM

  9. I demand equal pay for equal work! It’s a good thing statistics like these have nothing to do with equal pay for equal work or discrimination or Lilly Ledbetter. But they sure do get people to comment! And as the saying goes… the ends justify the means, misleading statistics be damned.

    Bill D.

    August 7, 2011 at 6:01 PM

  10. “Make” or “earn”? Women aren’t paid less for the same work, but women do work less and thereby earn less. C’mon. How stupid are women? If I could get away with paying women less for the same work, I’d reopen some of the dead coal mines and sawmills round here with all-female crews and kill the competition with my lower labor costs.


    August 8, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    • In case you missed it: “The findings are stark: Women earn less at all degree levels, even when they work as much as men.”

      Vanessa M

      August 10, 2011 at 10:45 AM

      • Wrong. The study doesn’t state that men and women work for the same hours. It has a cut off point of 35 hours a week as full time. So if someone worked 50 hours, they ignore it and adjust it to 35 hours a week.

        So yeah, this study is bogus. Until a study compares men an women working in the same profession, with the same experience, the same environment, the same quality of work, and the same number of hours and weeks worked we will never see a study worth a damn.

        That doesn’t matter though because, as you can see, people will flock to something like this without having actually read the data since it’s perfect for their confirmation bias.


        August 11, 2011 at 1:53 PM

      • Forgot to mention that this study also uses a median which further puts it into the trash heap.


        August 11, 2011 at 2:01 PM

  11. looks like maybe in the course of all those classes/research to get the PhD they need to work in something on negotiating

    Richard Hicks

    August 8, 2011 at 8:59 AM

  12. where’s the data?


    August 8, 2011 at 9:05 AM

  13. I can’t believe this, and neither can I help not being appalled at the people who use the “maternity-days-off” and “men are supposed to be the workers” excuses. Now, if only I could convince those people who don’t believe in gender-based wage-gaps…


    August 8, 2011 at 9:51 AM

  14. Unless you say what the degrees/fields these people are in, this is not terribly meaningful. Sure, a guy with a bachelor’s (in engineering) will make more than a woman with a Ph.D. (in comparative literature), but probably not terribly much more than a woman with a B.A. in computer science. Maybe men are more likely to choose areas of study that are more profitable in the current economy.

    Lisa (B.A. Linguistics, Ph.D. Psychology)

    August 8, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    • Here: “The findings are stark: Women earn less at all degree levels, even when they work as much as men”

      Hope this helps.

      Vanessa M

      August 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM

      • Hey Venessa, that doesn’t actually help. degree levels is different then degree field.


        August 10, 2011 at 2:35 PM

      • Whoops, sorry about that; I was half asleep –. I tried to find an article about it, but I found nothing.

        Vanessa M

        August 10, 2011 at 10:52 PM

  15. That really is depressing. As a woman who hopes to become a lawyer, and will work my butt off in order to do so, it’s irritating that my 8 years of schooling and hard work are worth only 4 years of schooling and hard work done by a man.


    August 8, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    • Jobs for lawyers are few and far between. There are Harvard grads with 250K in debt who are doing part time legal assistance for charity organizations. Not only that but as has been mentioned the study makes no adjustments for field of study.


      August 11, 2011 at 10:28 PM

  16. Les hommes plus que les femmes. Toute une injustice sociale.

    Marc Nantel

    August 8, 2011 at 7:01 PM

  17. It’s Great to have a penis ;)

    ScottBlogs (@ScottBlogs)

    August 8, 2011 at 7:24 PM

  18. What are the degrees in? That would be a more telling stat.

    Just as a hypothetical…Say 10 men got masters degrees in engineering, while 10 women got masters degrees in English. Would the 10 male engineers getting paid more money than the 10 female english majors be sexist since they both have the same level of education?


    August 9, 2011 at 12:02 AM

  19. […] Women Have To Have A Ph.D. To Make As Much As Men With A B.A. xml feed Kay Stei&#103er pu&#108&#108s out th&#105s &#99ha&#114t from Georgetown’&#115 Center on &#69duc&#97tion &#97nd the Workforce, which note&#115 […]

  20. Why don’t colleges just fire their male professors, hire women and increase their profits by 25%?


    August 9, 2011 at 11:42 AM

  21. […] Lifetime Earnings.” [PDF] Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Kay Steiger‘s got the […]

  22. Kay, if you are any indication, it’s no wonder that women make less than men.

    Oh, and in case you were wondering if getting a college degree is worth it, “Having some postsecondary education, even without earning a degree, adds nearly onequarter of a million dollars to lifetime earnings,”

    Pure correlation-vs.-causation error.

    Kathy Baker

    August 9, 2011 at 12:32 PM

  23. […] these are some pretty stark stats. Kay Steiger points out these findings from the latest report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, “The […]

  24. Could you please include more information about how this was generated? I mean, what exactly are the numbers- averages of salaries of all employed women/men with that degree? Thanks!

    Janet Carterhaugh

    August 9, 2011 at 1:46 PM

  25. Does this chart account for the number of years spent having and raising children? Statistics are tricky that way.


    August 9, 2011 at 2:20 PM

  26. […] as Kay Steiger points out, “women have to have a PhD to make as much as men with a BA.” This entry was posted in Jobs, […]

  27. […] born a female, you will have to work twice as hard as your peers in order to keep up. Even then, you will get paid at least 25% less than males at the same educational level. The pay gap is even greater if you are a female of colour. Every mistake you make will likely be […]

  28. The adoption of the Equal rights amendment would greatly help to close this scandalous gap…


    August 9, 2011 at 6:45 PM

  29. […] In this world, even in the United States, it still pays to have a penis. Women with a Ph.D. make as much as men with a B.A., while men with some college but no degree make a…. […]

  30. I have heard it said that women are less aggressive in pursuit of raises, than their male counterparts, or that they do not ask as frequently. I am not suggesting this may explain the discrepancy entirely, I do however suggest it is more complicated than simply having testicles or not.


    August 9, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    • Women are socially conditioned to not complain, to be retiring and polite, and to not push for things they want. A woman won’t be as aggressive, on average, when pursuing a raise (or may not pursue it at all) because she’s supposed to be content with whatever she gets.

      Kat B (@TranceGemini613)

      August 10, 2011 at 1:44 PM

  31. On aggregate maybe, but one for one cases are not the same. This is the problem with (mis)using statics for such purposes. I know plenty PhD and BA qualified women earning much more than me. I have a PhD, I am male and it took a decade to earn a decent living having a PhD, and not for want of trying. I could have been a tradie and could have earnt much more (in Australia) over the same time period. But I love my job and are happy with my position. This is what really matters.


    August 10, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    • Your anecdata isn’t fact, buddy. I know more women with PhDs than I do men, that doesn’t mean more women in the world–or even in New York, where I live–have Doctorate degrees than do men.

      Kat B (@TranceGemini613)

      August 10, 2011 at 1:45 PM

      • My computer science classes were 90% male and 10% women (at best) while my English classes were 60% female and 40% male. The starting salary of a BS computer science is around 60k and around 30k for BA english. If you were to look at the degree and normalize by gender, you’d see an average starting salary of around 60k for men, and 30k for women. All STEM majors were male dominated at my university, so until you compare between types of work and hours worked, the degree comparisons are meaningless.

        Some Stats

        August 11, 2011 at 3:20 PM

  32. […] tiré du site http://kaysteiger.com Redirigé par la page Facebook de […]

  33. […] Posted by Niccolo Machiavelli How does America NOT have gender equality? Maybe this? (source) Reply With Quote   + Reply to […]

  34. […] Education and the Workforce, based on 2007-2009 American Community Survey data (via Feministing and Kay Steiger). Not surprisingly, higher education significantly increases lifetime earnings of U.S. […]

  35. […] and the Workforce, based on 2007-2009 American Community Survey data (viaFeministing and Kay Steiger). Not surprisingly, higher education significantly increases lifetime earnings of U.S. […]

  36. What has always confused me about these studies is that it seems ridiculously profitable for a business-owner to hire all women, pay them in between what competitors pay women and men, and drive the competition out of business. Have there been any documented cases of this happening? (Sorry, haven’t followed this topic very extensively)


    August 11, 2011 at 12:52 AM

  37. […] these are some pretty stark stats. Kay Steiger points out these findings from the latest report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the […]

  38. Very unconvincing statistics. There are way too many other variables that could account for these discrepancies other than gender discrimination. Surely that should be obvious to everyone with a degree.


    August 11, 2011 at 12:31 PM

  39. Ladies, let me present you an article on “Proofiness”. How charlatans manipulate statistics to shore up a failing point.


    Now, read the book, if you can.


    and you wonder why the MRM hates FemiNazis?


    August 11, 2011 at 2:54 PM

  40. Does anyone actually bother to read the report?

    Multiple times they mention that they cannot control for hours, productivity, etc.. AND the point out that women work less then men.

    Ergo, the conclusions of the study, while they did admit it would be completely inaccurate in the write up, will also be severely inaccurate.

    35 hrs/week and 27 wks/year is being judged the same as someone who works 60 hrs/week 45+ wks/year.

    When you actually control for all the external variables, and compare individuals that are identical in every way, minus gender, you actually find discrepancies that benefit both sexes. For example, female software engineers get paid more than male software engineers. Male laborers get paid more than females. Etc…

    To somehow lump together all those different comparisons in different fields, age groups, etc… and come up with a general figure for wage discrepancy…. That would be nothing short of a statistical masterpiece. But we don’t have that. Just about every wage gap article that gets mainstreamed is based on reports that completely disregard realities, thereby the conclusions are fallacious. The realities being that, in general, women and men have different goals, work different amounts, and care about different things. It’s changing, but, in our modern times, the only thing holding women back is women themselves… Women make up the majority of post-secondary admissions… For now they flock to unprofitable fields, but that’s their choice, and it’s to their own financial detriment.


    August 11, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    • They also clearly state, on p. 22, that they use ONLY “super-attached” workers of both genders (i.e. “working at least 1,750 hours in 12 of 15 years”). And they have several pages which break it down by field, subsequent to that.

      It is also interesting to note (as has been done in other studies) that when a field comes to be predominantly women, the average wages *drop* in real terms (corrected for inflation) — as the perception of a field as being “women’s work” leads to it being less valued.

      Yeah, yeah, right…”it’s all women’s fault they get paid less, even when it’s full-time, full-year workers in identical fields like ‘computer programmer.'”


      August 12, 2011 at 5:13 PM

  41. As a woman with a PhD who makes a six figure salary, I’d have to say at least part of the problem is the sticky floor, not the glass ceiling. Women need to ask for more, not just accept what’s offered to them. There are plenty of data to support that men are much better at skills that pertain to compensation, such as negotiating better starting salaries, bonuses and raises, and that has to account for at least some of the gender differences. As ambitious women, we need to understand what is in our control (negotiating skills, getting mentoring, acting on opportunities for promotion) and put our efforts in those areas, rather than just playing the “blame game” and not taking action or personal responsibility.


    August 11, 2011 at 6:25 PM

  42. Women earn less because they waste their degrees on stupid studies like this instead of getting real jobs.


    August 11, 2011 at 11:35 PM

  43. […] odious and powerful your enemies truly are and, especially, no matter how fucking unfair it is that stupid assholes with half your I.Q., education and abilities are ahead of you and much happier and will remain that way as long as the stupid universe […]

  44. […] Well, this makes me feel good about my college degree. Pertinent quote: “Women have to have a PhD to make as much as men with a BA.” […]

  45. […] peers do and are more worried about the rising cost of college. My guess is that both might have something to do with this chart. Many have taken issue with the aggregate pay gap data, but it seems clear that it might be […]

  46. Sorry I haven’t read all 63 comments but…. doesn’t this graph assume that men and women with the same education are therefore serving in the same capacity in organizations? I’d be more interested in seeing the graph that shows how much women vs men are making at the Manager level, the Director level, the VP level, etc.

  47. […] of education than ever before, that’s not yet translating into a disappearing gender gap. As previous research has shown, women generally have to achieve a PhD to earn the same as most men […]

  48. […] feeling that going back to school is so important is so prevalent among women has a lot to do with this chart. Whether women know it or not, or whether women are thinking about going back to school (or staying […]

  49. […] and the Workforce, based on 2007-2009 American Community Survey data (viaFeministing and Kay Steiger). Not surprisingly, higher education significantly increases lifetime earnings of U.S. […]

  50. […] They make an average $800 a week less, but it gets worse the more education they get. In fact, women have to get a PhD to make as much as a man who has a bachelors. This seems a poor way to measure success a degree […]

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