While women make up the majority of students on American college campuses, a recent study shows they may be graduating into a man-centric workforce that creates a gender gap in salary during the first year of employment.
“Graduating to a Pay Gap,” a study conducted by the American Association of University Women published in October, claims women who have recently graduated across all academic disciplines and job occupations made less money than men in equivalent positions after only one year in the workforce. The AAUW recently awarded nine institutions, including Ithaca College, grants to promote dialogue about the gender pay gap on campus.
The AAUW found college-educated women 25 years and older made about $16,000 less per year than men in similar positions. Research suggests women are socialized to believe they should be less aggressive, and because of this societal standard, women are less likely to defend themselves or promote themselves for advancement. While social aggression may be an important trait in the workplace, neither women nor men should be forced to alter their mentalities to be successful. Women should feel free to embrace their aggressiveness or take on more quiet characteristics depending on their personalities.
Graduates should work to market their skills and show that — despite their gender — their natural personalities and traits will make a solid fit for the employer. At the same time, employers should value both traditionally masculine traits, like aggressiveness, and stereotypically feminine traits, like the ability to listen and show compassion, as equal parts in an overall goal of creating a balanced workplace. If employers better understood the benefits of gender balance in the office and stepped away from the traditional idea that a group of hard-hitting, aggressive employees makes the best office team, workplaces would be more balanced and the gender gap would decrease.
It is important that recent graduates be as educated as possible about the challenges that will face their generation. Supporting legislation that will help end overt discrimination and voicing concern for the gender gap will help inspire policy makers to affect real change.