Among Ivy League graduates, the difference is even starker: Male alumni earn 30% more than their female counterparts, according to a Thursday report in the Atlantic that cites data from the Equality of Opportunity Project.
While the numbers show male graduates of Ivy League colleges tend to earn 30% more than their female counterparts, the gaping pay disparity doesn't really kick in until Ivy League women reach their mid-30s — similar to what happens among all women working full-time.
Sadly, it's just the latest in a series of similar findings. Among Ivy League and elite college students who received financial aid, men earn an estimated $26,000 per year more than women 10 years after enrolling in university, according to the Center for American Progress. That gap is dramatically wider than it is among graduates of other types of colleges. For nonresearch public universities, the gender wage gap is approximately $10,000 — significantly lower, but still unjust.
Why do Ivy League women earn so much less? There are a few explanations. Research has shown that graduates from Ivy League schools typically have higher-paying jobs than other graduates. Generally, the more a job pays, the bigger the wage gap between genders.
More men have the highest-paying jobs in lucrative industries in which Ivy League graduates often work. Data on the careers of Harvard's class of 2014 demonstrate this gender imbalance: 1.6% of women had a starting salary of $110,000 or more, compared to 6.2% of men.
High-paying jobs — like those in consulting, finance and law — usually demand longer hours with less flexibility.
Given entrenched societal expectations, women are disproportionately saddled with familial responsibilities, making it harder to conform to a rigid work schedule. Men are rewarded when they're more easily able to work such hours, while women are penalized for not doing the same.
Among working parents with children under 18, mothers were three times more likely than fathers to say having a family impedes their career and ability to advance, a 2013 Pew Research Center poll found.
"Women were more likely than men to alter or downshift their present-day career goals in anticipation of the changes in preferences and responsibilities that accompany new parenthood," Stanford University professor Brooke Conroy Bass wrote in her study on labor market inequality.
Women who graduate from Ivy League colleges are more likely to marry people who also work in higher-paying industries, Harvard economics professor Claudia Goldin told the Atlantic. This makes it financially easier for women who decide to become mothers to sacrifice career advancements — and the accompanying pay raises.
On average, highly educated women don't become mothers until their 30s — which would explain why the wage gap begins to widen significantly between men and women once they hit their mid-30s.
The price of womanhood, it would seem, is inescapable.