Field of Study May Be Key to Achieving Gender Income Equality

While more women than men are attending college and earning degrees, pay equity between the genders remains elusive. However, according to new research published by the Review of Higher Education, the gap in pay equity decreases when looking at the types of degrees individuals hold versus the institutions they attend.

The research found that while the pay gap remains a factor between men and women who graduate from elite institutions, the gap decreases significantly in cases where women held degrees in business, technology, science and math from non-elite colleges and universities. This was most significant for women from low-income backgrounds.

This finding is important, given that the cost of college continues to be a significant investment at all socioeconomic levels and the fact that most students go to college to increase their future earning power. While simply earning a degree can increase one's potential median lifetime earnings significantly, the study indicates that the type of degree can have a more significant impact on future earnings than the college attended.

These findings are further supported by a recent survey that Western International University conducted of 1,000 adult women about higher education, which found that a vast majority are considering the cost of a degree over the reputation of the college and that online education is more desirable to help them achieve their education goal.

With women outpacing men in degree completion and yet only making 82 cents on the dollar compared to men, it is important that women continue to educate themselves further about their degree options and understand which degree programs could increase their earning capacity.

To make this possible, higher education institutions need to offer affordable and attainable degree programs in business, technology, science and math. Educators need to work with students to help them better understand the future earning capacity that certain industries afford and how the degree can translate into long-term careers.

The time has come to decrease the pay gap by offering degree programs that enable women to achieve economic stability and equality, while also ensuring individuals, regardless of gender, are able to achieve academic and economic financial success.


Tracy Lorenz is President of Western International University (West). West has been innovating in private education since 1978, and provides an online education model that prepares working professionals with the education they need to help them remain competitive in the workforce. For more information visit,