gender gap in graduate earnings at top colleges

Chart of the Day: The most elite colleges have the biggest gender pay gaps for alums

The Department of Education recently released a slew of data on graduation rates, student debt, and earnings by alums of all the colleges and universities in the US. One finding: At all the top-ranked schools, there was a significant gender gap in students’ earnings 10 years after graduation. At MIT men outearn women graduates by a whopping $58,100 a year.

Via The New York Times:

gender gap in graduate earnings at top colleges

Chart source: The New York Times

Though not terribly surprising, it’s the kind of info that prospective students might be curious to know as they consider whether the ever-rising tuition costs are worth the investment. (Not that future earnings are the only consideration in choosing a college, of course; God knows, I’m bringing down the average earnings of my alma mater, which gave me a wonderful education I wouldn’t trade for the world.)

It’s also interesting to note that the gender gap is biggest at the schools whose grads tend to earn the most. As Fortune posits, that may be because many students at elite schools go into lucrative industries — like finance and STEM — that just happen to be pretty unfriendly to women. (Funny how that works.) This tracks with what we know about the pay gap more generally: high-wage occupations tend to have the largest gender pay gaps, while low-wage jobs tend to offer equally shitty pay regardless of gender — but women tend to be overrepresented in them.

Of course, even with the massive and unjust pay gap, most women alums of prestigious colleges are probably still doing alright by the standards of the rest of the country — depending on how many loans they had to take out to get their high-priced degree. Indeed, the most worrying finding in the new data is how many schools — mostly for-profit and community colleges — are saddling low-income students with debt they can’t afford to pay off.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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