It may seem like high school grades don’t mean anything later in life, but a new report finds that high school grade point average (GPA) is a strong predictor of income in adulthood.
That doesn’t play out evenly, though. The team of University of Miami researchers found that a one-point increase in GPA means a 12 percent boost in earnings for men and a 14 percent boost for women. Even so, there’s a big gender gap in total earnings. A woman who got a 4.0 GPA in high school will only be worth about as much, income-wise, as a man who got a 2.0. A woman with a 2.0 average will make about as much as a man with a 0 GPA.
The data also show that average high school GPAs are significantly higher for women, but men will still end up having significantly higher income later on.
It also found that high school grades can indicate the likelihood of going to college, and that a one-point increase doubles the chances of completing a degree for both genders.
The finding that even the highest achieving female students can’t close the gender wage gap is true for higher education as well. A woman who is one credential ahead of a man will always be worth less in terms of income: a woman with an associate’s degree makes less than a man with a vocational degree, a woman with a bachelor’s makes less than a man with an associate’s, and a woman with an advanced degree makes less than a man with a bachelor’s. Even among recent college graduates with the same grades, majors, and career fields, men will make more in their first jobs.
While many factors go into the gender wage gap that means women who work full-time, year-round make 77 percent of what their male peers make, educational attainment clearly can’t explain it. In fact, when all factors are taken into account, about 40 percent of it remains unexplained. It’s likely discrimination is playing at least some role in that remaining portion.