It will likely come as little surprise that having a higher academic degree leads to higher career earning potential. (I mean, why else would someone willingly put themselves in that much student debt?) However, that increased earning potential doesn’t put men and women on equal monetary fields. In fact, women need an additional degree to make equal pay as their male colleagues.
This comes from new wage gap report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce published on Tuesday. One of the key findings of the report is that in order for women to make as much as men, on average, they need to get one more degree.
Yes, a whole entire ‘nother degree. So simple! So easy! That solves everything, I guess!
Here’s how Georgetown’s report broke that down: a woman with a bachelor’s degree earns an average of $61,000 a year. That’s nearly equivalent to the $59,000 average salary of a man with an associate’s degree. Ladies, want to make as much as a man with a bachelor’s degree? Just get your master’s!
Unfortunately, you still won’t make quite as much, on average, as your male counterpart with less education. (A woman with a master’s degree has an average salary of $83,000. A man with a bachelor’s makes an average $87,000.)
In fact, at nearly every educational level, men still outearn women even when they have one less degree.
“Part of it is self-inflicted,” Nicole Smith, one of the reports co-authors, told Fortune. “If you really like medicine, you should be a surgeon. You don’t have to be a nurse.” This is often cited as a way to “debunk” the wage gap: women tend to seek more lower-paying fields than men.
This is true. Fortunately, more women are continuing to enter more lucrative fields, like engineering, at Georgetown’s report points out.
But while this may be a factor in the greater average pay gap that exists, it doesn’t account for the pay gaps that persist within those lower-paying fields. As Georgetown’s report found, in disciplines like education and psychology, which are female-dominant fields, men still outearn their women colleagues within every reported subfield. For example, women make up 58 percent of school administrators. However, male administrators have almost 2.5 times the average salary of their female counterparts.
Cents on the dollar may not seem significant. However, as Georgetown’s video on the new report points out, that adds up to women earning $1 million less than men over the course of their career. Yes, a whole entire one million dollars.
Additionally, just one out of every four people making over $100,000 a year is a woman. Meaning, the gender gap widens significantly as average salary increases.
The wage gap is even greater for certain women of color.
As this report focuses on overall averages, it’s important to point out how the wage gap affects women of color differently. The “80 cents for every dollar” statistics often cited in conversation about the wage gap primarily refers to white women (who make an average of 77 to every white man’s dollar) and Asian women (who make an average of 83 cents to every while man’s dollar). The wage gap is significantly wider for black, Latinx, and Native women.
According to a 2017 report from the American Association of University Women, black women still earned just 63 cents to every dollar a white man makes. Native women earned an average of 58 cents and women who are Hawaiian or Pacific Islander earned 60 cents to every dollar. The gap was widest for Latinx women, who earned 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes.
While disheartening, this recent report from Georgetown deepens our understanding of the wage gap and just how far pay disparity extends. “The enduring gender wage gap puts women at the mercy of a different set of rules than men,” a PowerPoint based on the report states. Acknowledging those “rules” is the first step in understanding how to rewrite them in order to make the playing field equal for everyone.