Research on the gender pay gap from the American Enterprise Institute reveals that women overwhelmingly choose less-lucrative university majors.
The research, conducted by AEI scholar Mark J. Perry who is a professor at the University of Michigan in Flint, argues that any gap in earnings between American men and women are the result of the different career field choices rather than employer discrimination.
According to Perry’s research, American women received 57% of all bachelor degrees granted in 2014, which equated to nearly 200,000 more degrees granted to females than to males. Despite this disparity, the degrees granted to women came overwhelmingly in lower-paying majors, such as Nursing, Journalism, and English.
For example, in 8 out of the 10 highest-paying college majors — various Engineering fields, Computer Science and MIS — men represented more than 80% of the college graduates in those fields. The only college major of the top ten where women are over-represented is Nursing, a field where 84.4% of the bachelor’s degrees in 2014 were awarded to women.
For the top ten highest-paying college majors as a group, men earn an average of 72% of the bachelor’s degrees in those fields. For the top 20 college majors, men earn an average of nearly two-thirds of those degrees; for the top 30, the male average is 60.5% and for the top 50 (actually only 40 majors are considered), the average for men is 53.7% of degrees.
Perry concludes that the much-discussed pay gap is not a result of gender discrimination by employers, but rather the result of the choices of females entering the labor force.
The raw gender wage gap doesn’t exist because employers discriminate against women in the labor market as much as it reflects voluntary and personal choices of both men and women in terms of college majors, careers, the number of hours worked, and family roles and responsibilities.
As AEI scholar Christina Hoff Sommers has argued, the quickest way for women to increase their average earnings would be for them to change their majors from “feminist dance therapy” to something in the STEM fields.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org