Persistent Pay Gap Affects Women Just One Year Out of College

October 24, 2012


Katie Broendel,

Lisa Goodnight,


AAUW Report Shows That Women New to the Workforce Are Paid Only 82 Cents to Men’s Dollar

WASHINGTON — The American Association of University Women (AAUW) today released a new study showing that just one year out of college, millennial women are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to their male peers. Women are paid less than men are even when they do the same work and major in the same field. The AAUW report, Graduating to a Pay Gap, also found that 20 percent of women working full time one year after graduation devote more than 15 percent of their earnings to paying back college loans.

The AAUW report, released in time for the election, is part of a larger nonpartisan effort to encourage young people to vote their economic interests. It’s My Vote: I Will be Heard is AAUW’s national campaign to motivate millennial women to vote by educating them on issues such as equal pay, student loans, and birth control.

“In this election, jobs and the economy are top priorities. For women, it’s not just about getting a job; it’s about getting fair and honest pay. Graduating to a Pay Gap paints a disturbing picture for college-educated women who are losing out financially, from their first paycheck to their last Social Security check,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “We must address this workplace barrier so that our daughters have the same economic opportunities as our sons.”

Among all full-time workers, women are paid about 77 cents for every dollar paid to men — a figure that hasn’t budged in 10 years. While the disparity is narrower among young, college-educated, full-time workers, the persistent pay gap suggests that educational achievement alone will not fix the problem.

Graduating to a Pay Gap finds that nearly one-third of the pay gap between college graduates one year out cannot be explained by gender differences in education and employment. Part of this unexplained pay gap is likely due to gender discrimination. When AAUW researchers last looked at this issue, in Behind the Pay Gap, they found a similar situation. Then, among college graduates one year after graduation in 2001, women were paid 80 percent of what men were paid, and about one-quarter of the pay gap was unexplained. These overall pay gap findings are consistent with other reports issued in the last several years by the Joint Economic Committee in Congress and the General Accounting Office.

“This report goes behind the pay gap to fully understand its causes,” said AAUW Director of Research Catherine Hill. “We hope the new figures will help employers understand the problem and implement measures to pay their workers fair and honest wages.”

In addition to offering recommendations for employers and individuals, the report also points to legislation that can address this unjust disparity, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is widely seen as a necessary update to the nearly 50-year-old Equal Pay Act.


By:   |   October 24, 2012