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April 24, 2007
Pay Gap Appears Soon After Graduation

One year after graduating college, women working full time earn only 80 percent of what their male counterparts earn, according to a study by the American Association of University Women.

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The pay gap widens ten years after graduation, when women earn only 69 percent of what men earn, according to the study.

Even after controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors known to affect earnings, the researchers found that one-quarter of the pay gap remains unexplained. The AAUW says the unexplained gap is likely due to sex discrimination.

The researchers also found that ten years after graduation, college-educated men working full time have more authority in the workplace than do their female counterparts. Men are more likely to be involved in hiring and firing, supervising others, and setting pay.

"By looking at earnings just one year out of college, you have as level a playing field as possible," says AAUW Director of Research Catherine Hill. "These employees don't have a lot of experience and, for the most part, don't have care-giving obligations, so you'd expect there to be very little difference in the wages of men and women. But surprisingly, and unfortunately, we find that women already earn less--even when they have the same major and occupation as their male counterparts."

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