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Wage Gap Among PhDs

Women with PhDs in science or engineering aren't immune to the gender wage gap, according to paper appearing in this month's American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings.

A US Census Bureau-led team cross-referenced 2010 census data with personnel files on individuals employed under federal research awards, information from the ProQuest Dissertation and Thesis Database, W-2 and wage data, and head of household status. They compiled a cohort of 1,237 students who earned their PhDs between 2007 and 2010 from one of four US universities and were supported on a research grant while in school.

From all this, the team found that one year after they graduate, women with PhDs in science and engineering fields earn 31 percent less than their male counterparts. That gap narrowed to 11 percent when the team controlled for field of study, as women tend to pursue degrees in less lucrative fields. The gap was eliminated when the researchers controlled for whether the women were married and had children.

"There's a dramatic difference in how much early career men and women in the sciences are paid," co-author Bruce Weinberg, a professor of economics at Ohio State University, says in a statement. "We can get a sense of some of the reasons behind the pay gap, but our study can't speak to whether any of the gap is due to discrimination. Our results do suggest some lack of family-friendliness for women in these careers."