Tuesday, November 15, 2016

College Majors with Fewer Women tend to have Larger Pay Gaps


The Gender Pay Gap has become a key talking point for many in politics in the past few years. It is commonly quoted that women make only 77¢ for every $1 of their male counterparts. This statistic is calculated by taking the average salary of women and comparing it to the average salary of men. This does not control for job title, degree, regional difference, company size, or hours worked. After controlling for these factors, the gender pay gap drops from 77% to 98% (Payscale.com does a fantastic analysis and break down of the gender pay gap. I highly recommend you check it out.)

Using the salaries that controlled for these factors from the Payscale report, I decided to do further analysis on the pay gap. I wanted to know how the percentage of women in a field effected the pay difference between men and women. Since many companies try to hire equal amounts of men and women for similar roles and there are significantly fewer women in science and engineering, I assumed these few women would be able to demand a higher salary because of the scarcity. However, I found the opposite.

The interactive graphic below shows that college majors with fewer women tend to have higher differences in pay. (The graphics may be difficult to see on mobile, please switch to a desktop or use the mobile-friendly version)



Two of the largest outliers are Nursing and Accounting. Nursing has 92.3% women and men still make about $2400 more on average. Accounting has 52.1% women and a pay difference of +$2400 for men. One point of interest is elementary education where women make 1.4% more than men.

The following graph shows the same results as above, but instead of absolute difference in dollars, the commonly used metric of women's salaries as a percentage of men's salaries is plotted.



Any guess as to why this occurs would largely be speculative, but I imagine a “boy’s club” mentality could be to blame where men like to hire men and are willing to even pay more to do so.

The links to the data sources can be found below and as always, add any suggestions in the comments.


Data Source:

[1] http://www.payscale.com/career-news/2009/12/do-men-or-women-choose-majors-to-maximize-income
[2] https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1FDrXUk4t-RQekuKotqMD7pyGFmylHip-xarOawcVvqk/edit#gid=0

Connor Jennings Data Scientist

I am a PhD student in Industrial Engineering at Penn State University. I did my undergrad at Iowa State in Industrial Engineering and Economics. My academic website can be found here.