More women get doctoral degrees

We must still pay attention to the lingering wage gap between the sexes.

A decade ago, only 38 percent of doctoral degrees earned at the University were awarded to women. Now, women earn the majority of doctorates awarded by the University. Hopefully, this sign of progress in education will lead to progress in wage equity.

If those graduating classes of women choose to stay in Minnesota, there is good news, as Minnesota ranks as one of the top states in wage equity. In its Status of Women in the States report, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ranked Minnesota as one of the top five states for conditions of women. For women who work in the government, the wage gap is one of the closest in the nation, as a woman earns 97 cents for every $1 a man earns. This is largely because of pay equity laws of the 1980s, which required state and local governments to institute equal pay for equal work standards.

Nationally, however, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the gender wage ratio has decreased. The 2002-03 median annual earning for women is $30,724, while for men it is $40,668. Among other findings, the U.S. Census Bureau also found that poverty and uninsured rates among women is on the rise.

The fact that now more women than men are earning doctorates and undergraduate degrees from the University doesn’t mean the wage gap will close immediately. The National Association for Female Executives released a report finding exactly that. For instance, female medical researchers earned just 71.3 percent of the income earned by their male counterparts. At the University, men still earn the majority of degrees in higher-paying professions such as architecture, law and business.

More women are earning degrees is definitely an encouraging fact, if not a necessity of life for women, given that out of high school, women make on average $21,000, compared to $32,000 made by men. Wages will never be exactly the same between men and women, but efforts should be made to close the gap as much as possible. Women earning more doctorates is a positive sign, but equality is still only an aspiration.