Major Dilemma? Here Are The Best Paying College Degrees For Women

December 4, 2012  |  

It is a well-known fact that there still is a major gender pay gap. A new report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) concludes that part of the reason women working full-time earned only 82 percent on average of what their male peers earned just one year out of college is the choice of college majors.

“Men are more likely to study higher-paying specialties like engineering and computer science, while women are more likely to pursue lower-paying specialties like education and social sciences,” reports Forbes. The pay gap is also due to gender discrimination and salary negotiations differences. “Although women cannot avoid the pay gap completely, they can make choices that enhance their earning potential.” For example, Forbes looks at a report by Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce (CEW) which found that “the highest earning college major for both sexes ($120,000 for Petroleum Engineering) earns 314% more than the lowest earning major ($29,000 for Counseling Psychology), when comparing median earnings.”

Overall, having a STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math) career indicates there will be higher pay. “The worst-paying college majors for women are Theology and Religious Vocations (median $33,000), Human Services and Community Organization (median $35,000), and Cosmetology Services and Culinary Arts (median $36,000),” Forbes continues.

STEM profession are really the way to go. According to a 2012 report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, “the demand will far outstrip the supply for these coveted graduates;” reports The Washington Post.

There is a continuing effort to get more women in STEM field, even from an early age. GoldieBlox, a girl-friendly engineering toy by Stanford engineering student Debbie Sterling, is designed to encourage little girls to become interested in engineering. The first GoldieBlox kit will hit stores in 2013. Even Barbie is hitting the STEM bandwagon. The new  Mega Bloks Barbie Build ´N Style was created to develop math and science skills in girls.

There has also been a push to get more blacks in STEM professions.  According to WaPo, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering has partnered with more than 50 universities nationwide to recruit, retain, and produce African American STEM graduates. The push is much-needed. Project Step-Up (STEM Trends in Enrollment and Persistence for Underrepresented Populations) data found that there has only been a two percent to three percent increase of African Americans in STEM professions over the past 30 years. “Last year, blacks received just 7 percent of STEM related Bachelor’s degrees, 4 percent of Master’s degrees and only 2 percent of doctorates,” the paper says.

According to CEW, here are five best-paying college majors for women:

No. 1: Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
Percentage of women: 42%
Women’s median earnings: $100,000
Men’s median earnings: $110,000

No. 2: Information Sciences
Percentage of women: 26%
Women’s median earnings: $75,000
Men’s median earnings: $65,000

No. 3: Chemical Engineering
Percentage of women: 23%
Women’s median earnings: $72,000
Men’s median earnings: $92,000

No. 4: Computer Science
Percentage of women: 22%
Women’s median earnings: $70,000
Men’s median earnings: $79,000

No. 5: Electrical Engineering
Percentage of women: 7%
Women’s median earnings: $70,000
Men’s median earnings: $86,000


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