Accoring to a new study by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation,
only one year after college women are making 80 percent of what their male peers do, and ten years down the road the gap is even bigger.
From an article on MSNBC:
Catherine Hill, the organization's director of research, said: "Part of the wage difference is a result of people's choices, another part is employer's assumptions of what people's choices will be. ... Employers assume that young women are going to leave the work force when they have children, and, therefore, don't promote them."
The organization found that women's scholastic performance was not reflected in their compensation. Women have slightly higher grade point averages than men in every major, including science and math. But women who attend highly selective colleges earn the same as men who attend minimally selective colleges, according to the study.
In my experience, women choose different -- and less remunerative -- majors than men do. As I've written about previously, engineers are the highest-paid majors right out of college, and I don't see women clustering in Engineering departments. Grading curves are also notoriously more difficult in Engineering than in, say, Education or Sociology or English Lit, so I find a GPA comparison unhelpful. (As do graduate school admissions officers...)
I also hear anecdotally about problems women have negotatiating salaries for their first jobs out of college. In my experience, male students are much more comfortable negotiating base pay and signing bonuses. It doesn't even occur to a lot of women to negotiate, and because subsequent raises are pegged to previous salary levels, women fall further and further behind over time, and that gap becomes ever harder to close. It's important for women to negotiate salaries, even for their first job. See here and here and here for negotiating tips. I'll point out, though, that finding out national statistics for occupations is less useful. Better to find out what other students from your school have been making at your prospective employer (and that employer's competitors) -- that means you'll have to ask around internally.
That reminds me -- I've been meaning to write about the fear of brownnosing, and how that holds some people back. I'll start a new post for that one.