Women Surge Past Men in College Degrees

June 30, 2013

Young women are taking “you go, girl” not only to heart but to mind.  Now if they could only take it to the bank.

Females aged 25 to 29 are “out-degreeing” their male counterparts, according to the “Condition of Education 2013” released last month by the National Center for Education Statistics.

As the 20th Century came to an end, men and women earned degrees at the same rate. But by 2012, women had surged well ahead.

The center reports that 37 percent of females in the 25-29 age bracket had earned undergraduate degrees, compared with 30 percent of males. That performance continued up the education ladder. The center found that 9 percent of women had post-graduate degrees, compared with just 6 percent of males.

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Women’s growing academic prowess is yet to show up in paychecks, however. According to the center’s report, they have barely made a dent in the pay inequality that has plagued them from the beginning.

Only those women with high school diplomas have made any noticeable “strides” versus their male counterparts since 1995 – and then only because the earnings of males with high school diplomas slipped by $3,000 in real dollars.  By comparison, women with diplomas are paid almost exactly the same in real dollars as they were then.

. . . If They Could Only Take It to the Bank

Men’s overall annual pay of just under $40,000 has remained stagnant in real dollars since 1995.  Women meanwhile have increased from $32,000 to nearly $35,000.

But the increase appears more due to mix than rate.  In other words, the aggregate earnings of women are going up because more of them have achieved higher levels of education and not because the rate they are paid versus similarly educated men is improving.

The most recent numbers show young women aged 25 to 34 without a high school diploma earning an average of $18,930 versus the $24,960 taken home by their male counterparts. Those with a diploma earned $25,910 to the $32,450 handed out to males. College graduates earned $40,950 to males’ $49,760.

The real shame is that women with the most education – post-graduate degrees – faced the most glaring inequity both in absolute and percentage terms. According to the report, they were paid an average of $51,460 in comparison to the $67,990 awarded to males. That disparity of 32 percent is even greater than the “female penalty” of 1995.

Some day they will cash in on their growing academic stature, but it hasn’t happened yet.

– RG

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