College women expect earnings to be less
Share with others:
Despite their greater numbers and better academic success in college, women about to graduate and enter the workforce expect to make less money than males.
That's one result from a Duquesne University survey of 752 college seniors -- the inaugural "Collegiate SEER Index." The index, short for Seniors' Economic Expectation Research, is designed to be an annual economic snapshot of graduating college students.
"This enables us to highlight differences," said Charles Wilf, an assistant professor of economics at Duquesne's A.J. Palumbo School of Business Administration. "It may give us some insight about consumer behavior, political behavior, gender differences."
In the survey, 51 percent of female college seniors said that they expect to make $30,000 or less in the next year, compared to 35 percent of males. On the higher end, 12 percent of females expect to make more than $50,000, compared with 29 percent of males.
Three years after graduation, the gap in expected income widens even further, with 59 percent of males expecting to make more than $50,000, versus 38 percent of females.
"Despite all the talk of gender equality and 56 percent of U.S. undergrads being female, income expectations have yet to transcend these stereotypes," said Dr. Wilf.
Young adults aged 25 to 34 with a bachelor's degree and no graduate degrees earned a median salary of $43,500 in 2006, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The Collegiate SEER survey was conducted in March and April and was restricted to a national sample of college seniors between the ages of 21 and 24 who were planning to enter the workforce instead of going to graduate school. Results were compiled by Duquesne juniors Tambre Cooper, Alexis Imler and Mark Troyan.
Dr. Wilf likened the survey to the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, which tracks attitudes toward spending, personal finance and the business climate.
In the future, Dr. Wilf hopes that the Collegiate SEER Index could also be used as an economic snapshot -- both nationally and globally.
Generally, 65 percent of seniors interviewed said that their own career prospects were good or very good, though only 36 percent rated the job prospects of graduating seniors as a whole as positive.
Broken down by political party, Republicans were more positive about their career prospects than Democrats, with 72 percent of Republicans rating their own prospects as positive, versus 66 percent of Democrats.
The findings on female salary expectations are consistent with previous research, said Linda Babcock, a Carnegie Mellon University economics professor and co-author of "Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want."
"It happens study after study after study," she said. "There is a ton of research from all different areas that find this pattern, where women expect much less."
Dr. Babcock cited a 2007 CNN/Money survey of MBA students in which male students expected to earn 9 percent more than females one year after graduation. Five years after graduation, the gap widened to 25 percent.
Even in a study of 6-year-olds who performed a task and then were asked what they deserved as payment in the form of Hershey Kisses, girls consistently "paid" themselves less than boys did.
"Really, it's about how girls are socialized growing up," she said. "We still have really outdated role models and ideals that girls should be happy with what they have, shouldn't rock the boat, shouldn't go for more."
First Published June 16, 2008 12:00 am