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  1. 1. Salary and Sex 1 Running Head: Gender vs. Salary Expectation The Gender Wage Gap: Gender vs. Salary Expectation of Psychology Majors Lena Bailey University of Alabama at Birmingham
  2. 2. Salary and Sex 2 Abstract Recent research has supported the claim of a gender wage gap. The current study’s purpose was to compare salary expectations of men and women psychology majors across education levels. Participants were 28 psychology majors (17 female, 11 male). A survey was given to all participants to collect data on the issue. Inconsistent with prior research, women did not report significantly lower salaries than men upon career entry. Future graduate students did report significantly higher starting salaries than those choosing to not attend graduate school. Possible explanations for results are included.
  3. 3. Salary and Sex 3 According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2006, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $600, or about 81 percent of the $743 median for their male counterparts. Why do men make more money than women? There has been much research done on the topic of the gender pay gap. Research in the 1980s explained the gap due to the college majors’ differences. Gerhart (1990), for example, found that gender differences in major could account for 40–50% of the wage gap between recent male and female college graduates. More recent studies see a decline in college major differences, accounting for only 10% of the overall wage gap, due to more women entering math and science fields traditionally held by men (Joy, 2003). Blau and Kahn (2007) state that the gender pay gap can be “statistically decomposed into two components: one due to gender differences in measured characteristics, and the other “unexplained” and potentially due to discrimination.” Measureable factors are referred to as “human capital” and include factors such as education and experience, as well as measures of occupation, industry and union status (Blau & Kahn, 2007). Borden and Rajecki (2000) study confirms that psychology majors obtain jobs in a wide variety of settings, but rated their preparedness for these job settings as low when based on their education. When it comes to the matter of graduate school and gender, it seems there are also differences found between the sexes. Singer, Capsin, and Doson
  4. 4. Salary and Sex 4 (2005) found that women graduate students reported that they expect that “women were more likely than men to expect child- rearing to disrupt their careers, to make their career choices based on job flexibility, and to expect lower maximum salaries.” Discrimination is another factor that must be addressed when discussing the gender wage gap. According to Graham, Hotchkiss, and Gerhart (2000) there are three types of discrimination to consider: pay discrimination, job placement discrimination, and hiring discrimination. Factors also to be considered are access to hours worked, overtime work, and supervisory positions (Joy, 2003). Discrimination seems to be becoming less of an issue, given that employers are adhering to legislative laws, however, discriminatory behavior may account for as much as six percent of the salary difference between men and women (Graham, Hotchkiss, and Gerhart, 2000). Given these explanations, the aim of this study is focused on the factor of starting salary expectations. It has been shown that psychology undergraduate students are overly optimistic about the amount of the starting salary at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels (Briihl, 2001). Flippin and Ichonno (2003) showed that there is in fact a gender wage gap in their comparisons of males and females salary expectations for both one and ten years after graduation. “Both males and females explicitly expect a gap ranging from 7% to 11%”
  5. 5. Salary and Sex 5 (Flippin and Ichonno, 2003). Heckert et al., (2002) found that across 50 different majors, women estimated a lower starting salary than did men for themselves. Heckert et al. (2002) adds that the reasoning behind this as: “The significantly lower salary estimates of women at entry and at career peak may be the result of a recognition that temporarily leaving the workforce for childrearing and selecting a work environment that is more willing to accommodate to parental demands may come at a cost.” Other research has said that women’s lack of accurate salary information is a cause of the current gender wage gap. If women enter the workforce expecting to make less than men, than it should not be surprising to find a greater gap later in time (Martin, 1989). Martin (1989) found that even after providing participants with entry level pay information, women still expected to earn less money than men. Given the current research on this topic, we decided to see if the same would hold true on psychology majors. We hypothesize that undergraduate male psychology students will report a higher starting salary expectation than women. Methods Participants Twenty-eight psychology majors from a middle-sized urban school completed the questionnaire. They were recruited through the use of a sign-up sheet. The majority were either Caucasian
  6. 6. Salary and Sex 6 (49%) or African-American (43%). The ages of the participants ranged from 18 to 26 years old. The majority (62%) reported being 18 years old. Their were 17 females and 11 males that participated. The participants were mostly freshman (72%) who received extra credit upon completing the study. Figure 1.1 better shows the division of class level.
  7. 7. Salary and Sex 7 Fig. 1.1 Class Level 25 20 20 15 10 5 4 2 2 0 Freshman Sophmore Junior Senior Series1 20 4 2 2 Materials and Procedure Students were given a short nine question survey and asked to answer each question honestly. The questions included general demographic questions (such as age, race, sex, etc.) and also questions about their current school situation (such as class level and major). They were also asked if they planned to attend graduate school (meaning obtaining a master’s or
  8. 8. Salary and Sex 8 PhD) or not. The participants then circled what they believed their expected starting salary would be upon graduation from either their undergraduate program or their graduated program. The range choice given is as follows: Below $20,000 $20,000-$29,000 $30,000-$39,000 $40,000-$49,000 $50,000-$59,000 $60,000 + The students were given the survey at the same time and had up to 30 minutes to complete it. All were finished within the allotted time. After the participants were finished with their survey and had turned it in, they were debriefed and any questions had were answered. Results Data was analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA) to access differences across sex and expected education level. The dependent variable being addressed was salary expectation. Since participants were only tested once, this was a between subjects design. Our initial finding did find that there was one level that was significant, F (3, 24) = 4.44, (p = .013), in our 2 X 2 design. Because F (1, 24) = 6.07, (p =.021), there was a main effect of intended education level, with more participants intending to attend graduate Estimated Marginal Means of Salary Expectation 5.0 school and expecting a higher starting salary. Figure 1.2 shows the 4.5 means of this in better detail, with participants intending to go to graduate school intending to start with a salary closer to $50,000. 4.0 Estimated Marginal Means 3.5 3.0 Graduate School Fig. 1.2 2.5 Yes 2.0 No Male Female Sex
  9. 9. Salary and Sex 9 Salary expectation averaged across sex did not show significant results, F (1, 24) = 6.07, (p > .05). The salary expectations of males and females across education levels also did not show significant results, F (1, 24) = 2.00, (p > .05). Data also indicated that salary was an important factor when considering a job with 86% of participants answering yes. Discussion This study attempted to analyze students’ perceptions of staring salaries upon graduating with a degree in psychology. Psychology undergraduate students in this study may have been either slightly underestimating or overly optimistic about their starting salary. The National Center for Education Statistics (2001) reports the average starting salary of people with a bachelor’s in psychology as being $31,800. The majority of our participants reported either $20,000-$29,000 (28%) or $40,000-$49,000 (27%). However, participants reporting an intention to attend graduate school seemed to be closer to the average starting pay. The majority of participants reported either $40,000-$49,000 (43%) or $60,000+ (38%) which would be in the right range of $40,000 to
  10. 10. Salary and Sex 10 $70,000 depending on level of education attained and specialty pursued. Undergraduate students may need to be better educated on the types of careers and salaries available to them upon graduating with a degree in psychology. According to Briihl (2001), students need to promote the skills that they obtain with an undergraduate degree in psychology, including communication, time management, social and information processing skills. More specifically, the issue of the gender and salary expectation was what this study was addressing. Our hypothesis of male psychology majors reporting a higher starting salary expectation than women was not supported even though most of the current research reports this. This could possibly be due to the fact that the current generation is better educated than from years past. Since most of the research was from five or more years ago, generational effects could be a possible explanation. Also, our experiment was designed to look at salary expectations. Apparently, women do not expect to make a lower salary than men, even though that is what is happening in the real world. There are some limitations that need to be addressed. Our sample size was rather small with only 28 participants. Also, we did not have an equal gender distribution, having more females than males. The participant’s class level may also be considered a limitation, with further education equaling more information about
  11. 11. Salary and Sex 11 current economic situations. Three of are participants were psychology minors, not majors, which may have skewed our results slightly, but due to time restraints, they were included. Furthermore, our study did not take into account other possible variables such as future family plans or particular industry which may have given us different results. Since our findings are contrary to the current research, further studies should be done to address the current generation. Other possible studies could address different populations, including race, age, and socio-economic status and the possible similarities and/or differences between them. A longitudinal study would also provide valuable information, perhaps looking at expected salary while in school and then after the first year of employment. References (2006, August). Average annual salary of bachelor's degree recipients employed full time 1 year after graduation, by field of study. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from National Center for Education Statistics Web site: http://www.nces.ed.gov
  12. 12. Salary and Sex 12 (2007, September). Highlights of women's earnings in 2006. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site: http://www.bls.gov Blau, AuthorF. D., & Kahn, L. M. (2007). The gender pay gap: Have women gone as far as they can?. Academy of Management. 7-23. Borden, AuthorV., & Rajecki, D.W. (2000). First-year employment outcomes of psychology baccalaureates: Relatedness, preparedness, and prospects. Teaching of Psychology. 27 (3), 164 -168. Briihl, D. S. (2001).Life after college: Psychology students' perceptions of salary, business hiring criteria, and graduate admission criteria. North American Journal of Psychology. 3 (2), 321-330. Filippin, AuthorA., & Ichino, A. (2005). Gender wage gap in expectations and realizations. Labour Economics. 12, 125-145. Gerhart, B. (1990).Gender differences in current and starting salaries: The role of performance, college major, and job title. Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 43 (4), 418-433. Graham, M. E., Hotchkiss, J. L., & Gerhart, B. (2000). Discrimination by parts: A fixed-effects analysis of starting pay differences across gender. Eastern Economic Journal. 26 (1), 9-26. Heckert, T. M., Droste, H. E., Adams, P. J., Griffin, C. M., Roberts, L., & Michael, M. A., et al. (2002). Gender differences in anticipated salary: Role of salary estimates for others, job characteristics, career paths, and job inputs. Sex Roles, 47, 139-150. Joy, L. (2003).Salaries of recent male and female college graduates: Educational and labor market effects. Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 56 (4), 606-621. Martin, B. (1989).Gender differences in salary expectations when current salary information is provided. Psychology of Women Quarterly. 13, 87-96. Singer, A. R., Cassin, S. E., & Dobson, K. S. (2005). The role of gender in the career aspirations of professional psychology graduates: Are there more similarities than differences?. Canadian Psychology. 46(4), 215-222.

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