Gap and Gown: Advancing the Gender Pay Gap Conversation

October 05, 2012

Flash Mob for Equal Pay, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.During my nearly five years at AAUW, I have had the privilege of participating in a number of very fun activities to raise awareness about an extremely serious problem — the gender wage gap, which puts women at an economic disadvantage and puts many families on shaky financial ground. We have danced in the rain, cheered on Batgirl, and tweeted up a storm for fair pay — actions that were all firmly rooted in our solid research.

We’re pleased to formally announce that later this month we’re taking the conversation to an even more informed level with the release of a new AAUW report, Graduating to a Pay Gap. Our researchers will look at the gender pay gap with a very specific group in mind: college men and women who are working full time just one year after graduation. Why this group? Because focusing on them is the best way to do an apples-to-apples comparison of men’s and women’s wages controlling for age, education, experience, and other factors that might affect pay.

The new report, which will be released October 24, is an update of sorts to AAUW’s widely cited Behind the Pay Gap, which found that one year out of college, women earned just 80 percent of what their male peers earned. Graduating to a Pay Gap, authored by Christianne Corbett and Catherine Hill, is Behind the Pay Gap with a timely twist. In addition to providing the latest salary data for this population — whose average age is 23 — the report will also look at the other reasons why some students make more than others. It isn’t obvious who brings home the biggest pay check, so stay tuned to find out interesting stats about what affects pay. For example, do women attending private universities have a better chance of avoiding the pay gap than their peers at state schools?

Starting today, under a new blog series we’re calling Gap and Gown, we’ll have regular posts focused on issues raised in the new report. Then, in November, we’ll hold a panel discussion at our national office with experts such as the nationally recognized financial aid guru and publisher Mark Kantrowitz and AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz, who is a contributing author to Secrets of Powerful Women: Leading Change for a New Generation.

In the meantime, if you come across a great Instagram photo or image that illustrates the wage gap or the student debt problem in a gendered way, please tweet at @AAUWPress so we can share it with our followers. This issue must remain front and center — unless we want to do what the brilliant equal pay poster  of the smiling boy and the not-so-happy girl says and prepare our daughters for working life by giving them less pocket money.

Lisa Goodnight By:   |   October 05, 2012

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