A new study conducted by American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark J. Perry shows that women are more likely to choose less-lucrative college majors such as English, Nursing, and Journalism.
It is true that some fields are associated with and dominated by a particular gender – women in nursing and men in engineering, for example.
On top of that, traditionally “masculine” fields are typically associated with higher salaries. So the real question is: do women have a tendency to choose lower-paying jobs, or are the jobs offering a lower salary because they tend to be populated mainly by women?
Study author Mark J. Perry, a Professor at the University of Michigan of Flint, argues that the gender pay gap is due not to employer discrimination, but to the nature of the career itself.
Of all the bachelor degrees earned in 2014, nearly 60% of them went to women (that’s 200,000 more degrees to women than to men). Even so, many of these degrees were associated with lower-paying careers.
On the flip side, men dominated (by more than 80%) in 8 of the 10 highest-paying college majors. On average, 72% of bachelor’s degrees in the 10 highest-paying majors are awarded to men (this includes MIS, Computer Science, and Engineering).
“The raw gender wage gap doesn’t exist because employers discriminate against women in the labor market as much as it reflects voluntary and personal choices of both men and women in terms of college majors, careers, the number of hours worked, and family roles and responsibilities,” writes Perry.
What Perry’s research seems to suggest is that the quickest way for women to make more money is by moving away from “feminine” careers and exploring new fields of study – including those traditionally dominated by men.