Gender Representation and Salary Offers by Major

February 22, 2017 | By NACE Staff


TAGS: compensation, salaries, trends and predictions,

Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

NACE recently examined the average starting salary offers of Class of 2015 bachelor’s degree recipients across 27 majors to illustrate the broad imbalance in earning potential between men and women on the basis of academic field of study. The results were reported as part of the story titled “Exploring Gender Bias in Starting Salary Offers Among STEM Majors” that ran in the February 2017 issue of the NACE Journal.

Even this simple comparison makes it clear that fields of study—STEM or otherwise—with wider male representation, for the most part, have far greater earning potential upon graduation. (See figures 1 and 2.)

Overall, the median of the average starting salary offers for female-dominated majors was $38,125, while the median for male-dominated majors was $44,104—a difference of 14.5 percent.

Class of 2015: Gender Representation and Average Starting Salary Offer

Figure 1: Majors in which women account for 50 percent or more of degrees conferred

Family and consumer science
Average Salary$32,140
Average Salary$34,629
Average Salary$34,801
Environmental science
Average Salary$35,236
Average Salary$35,686
Average Salary$36,847
Average Salary$37,012
Average Salary$38,125
Public administration/social work
Average Salary$38,337
Visual and performing arts
Average Salary$38,470
Foreign language
Average Salary$38,537
Social science
Average Salary$40,964
Cultural studies
Average Salary$43,524
Interdisciplinary studies
Average Salary$47,007
Average Salary$49,851
Major Average Salary
Family and consumer science $32,140
Biology $34,629
Psychology $34,801
Environmental science $35,236
Education $35,686
Communications/journalism $36,847
Agriculture $37,012
English $38,125
Public administration/social work $38,337
Visual and performing arts $38,470
Foreign language $38,537
Social science $40,964
Cultural studies $43,524
Interdisciplinary studies $47,007
Healthcare/nursing $49,851
Source: “Exploring Gender Bias in Starting Salary Offers Among Stem Majors,” NACE Journal, February 2017, National Association of Colleges and Employers

Figure 2: Majors in which women account for less than 50 percent of degrees conferred

Computer science
Average Salary$69,214
Average Salary$63,764
Mathematics and statistics
Average Salary$58,554
Engineering technology
Average Salary$54,316
Average Salary$51,452
Physical sciences
Average Salary$45,507
Average Salary$42,701
Protective services
Average Salary$41,641
Average Salary$40,942
Average Salary$38,936
Parks and recreation
Average Salary$34,455
Average Salary$30,548
Major Average Salary
Computer science $69,214
Engineering $63,764
Mathematics and statistics $58,554
Engineering technology $54,316
Business $51,452
Physical sciences $45,507
Architecture $42,701
Protective services $41,641
Philosophy $40,942
History $38,936
Parks and recreation $34,455
Theology $30,548
Source: “Exploring Gender Bias in Starting Salary Offers Among Stem Majors,” NACE Journal, February 2017, National Association of Colleges and Employers