Having an Ivy League Degree Doesn’t Narrow the Wage Gap

Having an Ivy League Degree Doesn’t Narrow the Wage Gap

A female student walking on the campus of Princeton University.

It’s a message that is engrained in a lot of kids from the time they start receiving a report card: Get into an Ivy League school and success, stability and a fat paycheck will be yours.

Of course, the older you got, the more simplistic you realized that thinking was. A fancy college pedigree isn’t the decider of professional success — and, a new study shows, it isn’t enough to overcome the gender wage gap.

A study released last month by the New America Foundation shows that women who graduated from Ivy League colleges and similarly competitive schools (dubbed the Ivy Plus) earned, on average, $85,000 a year less than their male peers by the time they reached their 30s. This was higher than the gap at highly selective public and private schools ($26,000 a year) and non-selective four-year public schools (about $15,000), according to a MarketWatch report on the study.

Another interesting finding: Among less selective schools, there was a strong correlation between women losing some of their earning power and leaving the workforce after getting married. Among Ivy League grads, however, that correlation didn’t exist — which implies their wage gaps were closely tied to the workplace glass ceiling.

Yes, it’s disheartening to see further evidence that the pay gap affects all of us. But this knowledge should empower us to do something about it, even if on a small scale. Here’s how you can take action.

Stop revealing your salary history when you apply for a new job. Indeed, it may even be illegal for a prospective employer to ask you for this information, depending on the state you live in. By giving up your pay history, you’re potentially setting yourself up to continue the wage gap. Rather, keep it focused on what you’d like to be making and the research you’ve done on what a competitive salary is for your field.

Ask for the salary you want. According to a study by the job site Hired, women get offered, on average, anywhere from 3% to 30% less than men for the same roles. But, women who ask for a higher salary seem to be getting it, at least early in their careers: Women with under two years of experience asked for an average compensation that was 2% higher than what men asked for. As a result, final salaries for women in junior-level positions were 7% higher than for junior-level men.

Mentor other women in the workforce. Because what you make early in your career sets the stage for what you make later on, it’s important to impart your 20/20 hindsight to those still finding their way. Can you offer advice on negotiating pay or going for the big promotion to a junior colleague? What mistakes did you make in the past that others could learn from?

Vote your conscious. Today’s Election Day, so if closing the wage gap is important to you, head to the polls and vote for the candidates that reflect your personal beliefs and values. And while you’re at it, know your rights and get familiar with your state’s equal-pay laws.

RELATED: Cracking This Joke During a Salary Negotiation Can Help You Earn More


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