On average, for every dollar men earn, women make 76.6
The U.S. Census reported an almost $10,000 difference in median
annual pay between men and women in “Income in the United States:
2002.” Men’s annual median pay was $38,884 while women’s was
“The sort of stories that economists tell are that women make
different choices than men,” said Alexandra Bernasek, a professor
of economics and instructor of Gender in the Economy. “Frequently,
because of responsibilities for family, women are more likely to go
into part-time work, more likely to go into jobs that are more
flexible that allow them to maintain those family
She points out that there are critiques of this theory, however.
Some say societal discrimination – the idea that women are expected
to care for children and elderly relatives – causes women to choose
to leave work, Bernasek said.
Sarah Spain, an organizer with 9 to 5 Colorado, a division of
the National Association of Working Women, said this is a common
choice for young women.
“A lot of people are faced with the choice of being a good
employee and being a good parent,” and these people can also be
forced to balance the two duties, Spain said, Sometimes they end up
not working because they fear their work might take away from their
Although it is illegal for an employer to make inquiries into a
potential employee’s personal plans, women are often perceived as
less stable workers because they may take breaks to care for family
members, said John Marangos, an assistant professor in the
“I don’t think that women should be punished for having a
family,” said Jennifer Peterson, a sophomore microbiology major.
“Women can bring a lot to the workplace; for one, I think the women
are more creative than men.”
Many women also may prefer to enter different professions and
specialties than men.
“Women tend to do certain kinds of jobs and men tend to do other
kinds of jobs,” Bernasek said. “Even within jobs. Women physicians
were disproportionately going into OB/GYN and that’s become an
almost entirely female area. The types of jobs women do or the
specialties they’re in tend to be lower paying as well.”
Women are also less likely to negotiate for pay than men,
The Career Center has resources to help students with starting
salary and benefit negotiations, said Brett Beal, associate
director for employee relations. Students interested should call
the Career Center at 491-5707.
To some students, these resources offer little comfort.
“I want to go to vet school and veterinarians don’t make a lot
of money to start with,” Peterson said. “But to hear that men are
making more money is not fair because we put the same amount of
work into our careers.”
Collegian reporter Christiana Nelson contributed to this