Ann Daly writes up some new research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers that tries to take a statistically rigorous look at gender-linked disparity in starting salaries for new college graduates:
A woman graduating with a bachelor’s degree last year earned a median starting salary of $36,451. For a man, it was $44,159. When you calculate a lifetime of percentage raises and compound interest, that nearly $8,000 difference is staggering.
As demoralizing as the findings of “Gender and College Recruiting” might be for this year’s female grads, its implications for future generations of women in the workplace are downright alarming. NACE’s analysis, which painstakingly isolates a systematic gender effect by taking into account the differential salary levels among majors and then comparing salaries within the same major, gives lie to the conventional wisdom that paycheck parity will somehow materialize for women with the mere passage of time.
Now obviously some people are going to be very resistant to this conclusion. They’ll think that in a competitive labor market with many employers and many workers, employers who discriminate against women in their salary offerings will be at a disadvantage. No firm will want to disadvantage itself in this way, thus the discrimination shouldn’t exist. Consequently, this apparently effect is almost certainly due to some other variable that’s not accounted for. So it’s worth pointing out that by this logic, the gender disparity in employment that existed in 1961 wouldn’t exist either. But obviously it did.