Women Earn More College Degrees And Men Still Earn More Money

It’s the college ranking season and especially if you’re a prospective college student or a parent, these shorthand markers of a school’s quality, value, and – let’s face it – prestige, are a big deal.

They’re also a big deal to the University of California system I lead. We do a lot of celebratory horn blowing around this time of year.

On the latest Forbes top colleges list, for example, the University of California, Berkeley is the highest ranked public university campus in the nation, and five other UC campuses – UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, and UC Irvine – are in the top 22. Forbes also ranked UCLA as this year’s Number 1 Best Value School. All of this is the social media equivalent of a loud “woo-hoo!”

The excitement over college rankings, and the proliferation of such lists themselves, certainly speaks to the importance of higher education in the public mind. It’s hardly news anymore that a college education is a game-changer in achieving what we used to call the American Dream. U.S. Labor Department statistics show that overall, college graduates today earn roughly 98% more per hour than people without a degree.

Women, especially, have internalized the message that higher education pays. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women make up more than 56% of college students nationwide.

But here’s the rub. Despite the tremendous educational gains that women have achieved, men still earn higher wages, virtually across the board. Since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963 – when women earned an average of 59 cents for every dollar paid to a man – the gender pay gap has narrowed by less than half a cent per year, to about 80 cents on the dollar today.



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