The Young Politica: The Gender Gap’s Seven Percent

In a recent article, Meghan Casserly delved into the details of a recent study by the American Association of University of Women.

The study, which I covered briefly in an earlier column attempts to single out factors that may contribute to the wage gap (including the number of hours worked and the college major chosen).

It turns out that even after AAUW factored in choices that may have affected women’s pay, women still earn seven percent less than men counterparts one year after college. This, in turn, affects their financial ‘health’ for the rest of their lives. I spoke to Catherine Hill, the director of research for AAUW, about the study and the wage gap and this ever-present seven percent:

Maegan Vazquez: What are the main findings of the report?

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Catherine Hill: There are three main findings from this report. First, the pay gap between men and women begins right after graduations.  That gap is partly explained by differences in men’s and women’s choices, but even after controlling for all of the factors known to affect earnings, a pay gap remains, just one year after graduation.

The second finding of the report is that the pay gap is not just a  matter of different choices—women who map the same choice as men will not earn as much. Some part of the pay gap is a result of choices, but not all of it.

The third finding is that, because of this pay gap, female college graduates are more likely to find that student loan payments take up more than 15 percent of their paychecks after graduation. the impact of the pay gap is immediate and significant.

MV: What makes this report so different from other wage gap studies?

CH: Our study is unusual in that it focus on a population that is fairly homogeneous: college graduates in the first year after graduations.  This group tends to be young (23 on average) and have not yet started families. We do a regression analysis to try to account for all factors that affect earnings, getting as close to an apple to apple comparison as possible.

MV: What’s the most surprising thing researchers found in this study?

CH: It is surprising to me that the pay gap begins right out of college, even among men and women majoring in the same field.

MV: Can you tell me a little bit more about what the unaccounted seven percent gap is comprised of?

CH: The seven percent gap is the remainder after accounting for many factors known to affect earnings. It is actually a 6.6 percent gap and we rounded the number to 7.  Negotiation is often thought to explain some of the unexplained part of the gap.  Attitudes and bias may also play a part.

MV: How do we remedy the gap? Has there been/will there be progress to shorten the gap?

CH: The paycheck fairness act could go along way toward ending discrimination in the workplace.

There you have it: even after an apples to apples comparison, women are earning less than men. Now that we have more information to back claims made for the past 20 years, we have even more reason to take action.

You can watch the entire press conference webcast here.

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