Women with PhDs reach pay eq­uity with men

New study sug­gests that the lower the level of ed­u­ca­tion, the big­ger the gen­der pay gap

The Peterborough Examiner - - Business - CHRISTO­PHER REYNOLDS

The wage gap has closed be­tween women and men with newly earned PhDs — though the num­bers are less com­fort­ing for those with­out a decade to spend in the halls of higher learn­ing, ac­cord­ing to a Uni­ver­sity of Guelph study an­nounced Tues­day.

The study, which fo­cuses on gen­der eq­uity in the labour mar­ket, found that both male and fe­male doc­toral grad­u­ates earn about $70,000 an­nu­ally dur­ing the first three years after con­vo­ca­tion.

“This is the first time that I’ve seen at any level that there is no dis­crep­ancy in earn­ings be­tween males and fe­males,” said pro­fes­sor David Walters.

How­ever, the study also sug­gests that the lower the level of ed­u­ca­tion, the big­ger the gen­der pay gap, and that on av­er­age only PhD grad­u­ates achieved in­come eq­uity.

The au­thors at­tribute the link be­tween ad­vanced ed­u­ca­tion and equal in­comes to strong col­lec­tive agree­ments and proac­tive labour poli­cies in the sec­tors PhD grad­u­ates grav­i­tate to­ward, such as academia and gov­ern­ment.

The pay gap is great­est among em­ploy­ees in the trades, where on av­er­age women earn $32,500 and men earn $40,500 — 25 per cent more.

Lead au­thor An­thony Jehn says men tend to go into high­er­pay­ing trades, such as pip­efit­ting or plumb­ing, whereas women lean more to­ward hair­dress­ing or cos­me­tol­ogy.

Pub­lished Mon­day in the jour­nal Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Pol­icy, the study an­a­lyzed data from Statis­tics Canada’s sweep­ing 2013 Na­tional Grad­u­ates Sur­vey, which sur­veyed trades, col­lege and uni­ver­sity grad­u­ates three years after grad­u­a­tion — be­fore fac­tors such as ma­ter­nity leave start to in­flu­ence re­sults.

“You would think that if they’re early in their ca­reers, they should be on equal foot­ing,” said Jehn, not­ing that the wage gap tends to widen over time.

“There are dif­fer­ent sorts of penal­ties that fe­males ex­pe­ri­ence, such as mat leave or tak­ing time off work, which in­ter­fere with their abil­ity to gain ex­pe­ri­ence in the labour mar­ket. But (re­cent) grad­u­ates in the labour mar­ket are still see­ing this gen­der bias too.”

The dif­fer­ence in in­come be­tween male master’s and PhD grad­u­ates was vir­tu­ally nonex­is­tent at $69,500 and $70,000, re­spec­tively. For women en­ter­ing the work­force, how­ever, in­vest­ing in a doc­tor­ate meant an av­er­age pay bump to $69,000, up from $62,500 for master’s grad­u­ates.

The find­ings show that greater pay eq­uity ex­ists for those who can af­ford to in­vest in ed­u­ca­tion, a prob­lem that com­pounds class di­vi­sions along gen­dered lines, Jehn said.

A “cul­ture of gen­der in­equal­ity” in some male-dom­i­nated fields also dis­cour­ages women from en­ter­ing, said Jehn, who worked on the study with Walters and pro­fes­sor Stephanie How­ells. More than one-third of all male re­spon­dents ma­jored in the more lu­cra­tive fields of math, engi­neer­ing or com­puter sci­ence, ver­sus five per cent for women, help­ing ex­plain the in­come dis­par­ity among bach­e­lor’s and master’s de­gree holders.

The pay gaps are small­est among those with lib­eral arts de­grees. But the rel­a­tively few women who go into math, engi­neer­ing and com­puter sci­ence make far less than their male col­leagues, the au­thors found.

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