Women with a degree earn as much as men without one, study finds

It’s generally known that people with a degree enjoy higher earnings in their lifetime. However, like many things in life, this may only be true if you’re a man.

A new study, from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has revealed that the pay boost granted by a degree fails to close the male/female wage gap. In fact, it looks as if a woman with a degree only earns as much as a man without one.

The research examined the career paths and overall earnings of people who finished their GCSEs between 2002 and 2007, and is the first study to compare the earnings by age of people who have and haven’t completed a bachelor’s degree. It charted their income by year until they turned 29, in order to compare how much more, or less, a degree earned them than their non-degree-educated equals.

The study found that, in general, a degree brought a pay boost year-on-year for both men and women. Men with a bachelor’s degree were fond to earn, on average, 6% more than those without, whereas women earned 26% more.

However, this sizeable boost for women only left their annual income on par with non-degree-educated men, with both earning £30,000 per year. This evidence only goes to show the pervasive wage gap that exists in UK industries.

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Bad news is also in store for those who are a bachelor of the arts. As the study showed,  people with a BA actually earn less, on average, than those in a same sector without a degree. In comparison, bachelor of science subjects, such as economics or science, brought hefty pay increases. However, not all hope is lost for BA-equipped workers as the study points out that 95% of those surveyed in the arts sector had a degree, and so the hugely different size groups made truly accurate conclusions impossible.

The study also identified 14 poorly-performing higher education institutes, graduates of which earn significantly less than both degree-educated and degree-less peers. While these institutes were not named, Sam Gyimah, the higher education minister, said in a statement that the Office for Students was willing to step in for universities that did not deliver value.

While the study concluded that 67% of men and 99% of women benefit from a university degree, women are still behind men in earnings, despite the fact they apparently “gain more” from university. As well as suffering financially, women still have trouble  even finding a position within the tech industry, with a recent study showing less than 15% of tech leaders in the UK are women. It’s clear the UK still has a way to go in combating workplace issues of women both earning less and being represented less in the tech industry.

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