“Which College Majors Screw Over Women the Least?” Yay for IT!

February 23, 2012 at 9:59 am 3 comments

A rather provocative title from the Jezebel site leads to some interesting statistics.  If you follow the link to the NYTimes site, you find that CS still has men paid 2% more than women.  IT is the winner, where women make more than men. What I find it interesting that few women choose IT for a career, despite the obvious economic advantages: Lots of jobs, high-paying jobs, and jobs where women get paid better than men.  That suggests that decision away from IT is not an economic one — there are other factors at play.

According to the Times’ Catherine Rampell, it looks like a woman’s choice of college major may determine her future income equality. Rampell analyzed information provided by salary data-collecting company PayScale and found that a surprising number of majors actually eliminate much of the discrepancy between male and female pay. Women who majored in Mechanical Engineering or Management Information Systems, for example, earn identical salaries to their male counterparts, even when controlled for demographic differences. Women who studied Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Communications, English, Sociology, Graphic Design, or Psychology earn only 1% less than men doing the same job. And women who studied Information Technology in undergrad and didn’t go to grad school actually outearn similarly educated men by 1%.

via Which College Majors Screw Over Women the Least?.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alfred Thompson (@alfredtwo)  |  February 23, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Is there real evidence that people in general or women in particilar choose their college majors or even careers based primarily on money? That doesn’t seem to fit what I see. Now I know what I see is not data but still. What I see is people chosing things with what interests them first and after that what is easiest.

    • 2. Cecily  |  February 23, 2012 at 11:50 am

      I suspect that income potential is generally a bigger factor for men than women. I am LDS/mormon, and in that sub-culture people tend to have big families and the men are generally responsible to provide for the families, so making enough money to do so is a serious consideration. For women in my faith, we are encouraged to contribute to society, but traditionally, our first responsibility is to raise children. In my mom’s generation, this meant that many studied in fields such as family and consumer science, home economics education, and early childhood and elementary education. In my generation, it is becoming more common for girls to study in fields like accounting(my sister’s choice) or computer science, but girls that choose to do so are still the exception rather than the rule. It is kind of sad but true, that a lot of girls around the state here probably consider me a role model of a woman in science; this is probably especially true among girls of my faith where there is truly a dearth of good female role models in STEM careers.

  • 3. Cecily  |  February 23, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I wonder how much of this can be attributed to the gender of the “boss”. I have noticed that I see girls during my office hours approximately as often as guys, despite the fact that the vast majority of students were guys. The girls are also a LOT more willing to ask me for career advice. I also have half girls and half guys as TA’s. I suspect that it is a lot more intimidating to approach a “boss” of a different gender than a “boss” of a similar gender, especially when asking for favors like a raise or a job. I have also noticed that there are a lot more women in IT. In our department, which is half CS and half IT(roughly 8 people total), there are 3 women in IT and only me in CS. The IT women tell me there are usually more women in IT than CS.


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