Today my advisor pointed me to an article that describes how 10 years out, alumni of his alma mater are some of the highest earners in the country whereas graduates of my college are some of the lowest earners. Although I think he showed me this so that he could feel superior (why, any member of the National Academy of Sciences needs to continue to impress their superiority on anyone is beyond me), what struck me was that the gender pay gap at his alma mater is greater than the average salary of alums at mine.
Why could this be? Why would some of the most prestigious institutions in our country have the highest difference in pay between men and women?
The especially startling thing about it is that many of the Ivy League schools have not just higher wage gaps, but multiple times the size of the wage gaps at other schools. There are many reasons, including those beyond academic quality, that students from certain schools might have higher wages than other schools. Are the same factors that contribute to this (certain types of connections, reputation, etc.) affecting the wage gap?
On the other hand, could the factors known to keep women’s salaries on average lower, like time off to care for children and “leaning back” to be more present in the home, exacerbated at power schools? One could imagine women married to men with high earning potential and high career pressure being more likely to take a step back from their own careers.
I think that this survey of salaries raises more questions than it answers. However, perhaps digging into disparities such as these could help us understand more about the causes of income inequality.