The Young Politica: The Wage Gap Starts Soon After You Receive Your Diploma

For many college-aged readers, loans are the reason we get the opportunity to get to college. We spend thousands of dollars in virtual money to get an education in the hopes that it will begin to pay off as soon as we get a job. Yet, despite the fact that we advance in our career fields, it seems like women’s investments aren’t paying off as quickly as our male counterparts.

A recent report released by the American Association of University Women, Graduating to Pay a Gap, found that the pay gap persists and even begins soon after graduation

—“women one year out of college who were working full-time earned, on average, just 82 percent of what their male peers earned.”

It is important to note that even after variances like college majors, number of hours worked, and career industries were accounted for, women still earned less than men. One third of the gap cannot be explained by differences in education or unemployment, according to AAUW.

AAUW says gender discrimination is part of the reason for this wage gap. The organization also points to the decisions women make in their careers.

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As NPR reports, men are four times more likely to ask for a raise. The study also reported that many women are perceived as more aggressive than men when asking for the same raise. Perhaps it’s due to the general perception of women in the workplace. Perhaps it’s women’s general lack of negotiation skills. Or perhaps, as this UC Berkley study suggests, women should revert to antiquated gender norms and flirt their way to the top.

The latter study, I hope, should become a thing of the past, if we follow a few of AAUW’s recommendations. The report has quite a few suggestions to help close the wage gap. Some significant recommendations for high school and college students include considering future earnings when choosing a major and educating yourself about loans before getting them.

For recent college graduates, the report suggests considering future earnings when choosing a job to pursue, consider joining a union, and knowing what your skills are worth in the job market. Lastly, the report calls policy makers to action—asking for the protection of Pell grants and for Congress to increase the standards of federal equal pay laws.

All of these recommendations are steps in the right direction. They are infrastructural building blocks aimed at providing solutions. It makes more sense than anything we have tried to use to close the wage gap. Now, it seems, we have a grasp on change’s functionality. However, AAUW cannot force the change. Readers and policymakers must embrace it.

Whether you’re a first generation college student or you’re part of a legacy set to go to an Ivy, be aware the wage gap follows you straight after graduation.  As AAUW’s study found, even just a year after college—when both men and women are equally educated and have the same amount of work experience—the wage gap impedes on women’s efforts towards equality.

This pay difference is not blatantly clear, nor does it apply equally to every woman. However, as this study shows, it affects you sooner than you think.

Educate yourselves, Young Politicas!

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