Women College Graduates: Selling Themselves Short

If you’re a college coed or you’ve got a daughter in college like I do, the first annual poll of the expectations of graduating college seniors is going to be depressing.

According to a new survey, female students expect to earn far less than young male graduates as they begin their careers. While 12% of women expect to earn more than $50,000 in their first year on the job, 24% of men expect to make that much. Once they’ve been in the workforce three years, 59% of young men versus 38% of young women predict that they will be making at least $50,000 annually.

Charles Wilf, an economics professor at Duquesne University, conducted the inaugural study, which will be known as the Collegiate Seniors’ Economic Expectation Research Survey and Index.

The gap in salary expectation is pronounced even when you consider that there are more men who gravitate to engineering and computer science, while more women major in social studies and education.

“Despite decades of talk about gender equality and the fact that a majority of U.S. undergraduate students are female, women’s income expectations have not transcended stereotypes,” Wilf said. “Exactly why this perception persists is not yet clear.”

Interestingly enough, the study also looked at career attitudes of Democrats and Republicans college students. Those identifying with the GOP thought their own job prospects were good or very good (72%), versus 66% of Democrats. Political independents were the least optimistic with 56% saying their career prospects were good or better.

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