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Career Corner
Why the Wage Gap?
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ever feel like you're being treated differently than your colleagues or former classmates? Well if you're a woman, you might be but not for why you think.

You may have already known that there's a wage gap between men and women working in same position, but did you stop to think about why in these modern times it's still occurring?

Women who are paid on a salary, a salary she worked long and hard to earn, it can be an discouraging and upsetting fact to know that her male counterpart is being compensated more. Male counterpart in terms of her major, that is.

So before jumping to the frontlines of the Occupy movements, wage disparity has a long history and there are a lot of factors included that need considering.

Over the years, an extensive laundry list has been accumulated as to why companies are still paying women less. Things like, age, maternity leave, industry, etc, but here's another spin to it. 

According to data provided by PayScale, leading fields that have the biggest wage gap are: architecture, education, and criminal justice. In these fields, men are earning 5 percent more than their female counterparts.

Close behind is business and marketing/management with a 4 percent wage gap and finance and accounting with 3 percent. While the gender composition doesn't have an impact on the pay difference, the career outcome might.

Pay levels in certain careers can greatly vary so whether a man and women both earn business degrees, the career each ends up pursuing could be the determining factor for how much they make.

Last year, more than 20,000 U.S. business school graduating seniors were surveyed by The New York Times for their most recent ranking of undergraduate business programs. They surveyed seniors from 139 schools who disclosed both their gender and future career plans.

What the data revealed was that male business grads were more than likely than female business grads to seek out careers in finance and consulting. So where were these business savvy ladies heading? The numbers showed that they were more than likely to go into Human 

Resources and marketing. The largest number of respondents, 5,623, reported back that they planned to pursue careers in finance. In this group men outnumbered women 70 percent to 30 percent.

Marketing, the next largest group, included 4,048 graduates and there women outnumbered men with 66 percent to their 34 percent. In third place for the largest group was accounting where the genders were evenly split.

Salaries for all business majors now average $48,144, accoring to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, but the pay depends on major and industry as well. Think of it this way: a business administration major working in the retail industry (a common career move) can expect an annual salary of about $35,190 while another of the same major will make $60,040 working in a hospital.

So after all this, if you consider that more men are applying their business degrees in careers in finance and consulting then more are bound to end up making more in these higher-paying industries. And it goes the other way around for women pursuing careers in lower-paying industries such as HR and marketing.

This study alone can't umbrella all the reasons for the age gap but it's hard to say that it's simply due to discrimination against women, though that can't be ruled out either. Instead, choice could be another major factor--a practical one for those who might need to so they can to start paying back loans or want to start a family for example. But these certain choices also have certain outcomes that follow, certain things like the size of a paycheck.
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