In most major urban centers around the country, statistics are revealing a significant shift in compensation trends among young male and female workers with college degrees.
On an average, among the 150 largest urban centers in the U.S., young, single, childless women were making 8% more on average than men of the same age and educational qualifications. In some of the larger cities, like New York and Los Angeles, that number was even higher, sometimes approaching 20%.
That means, essentially, that female college graduates in their 20s are likely to get higher wages than their male counterparts. Good news for young women, to be sure, and perhaps a bit of a wake-up call for the young men who are getting the short end of the compensation stick.
There could be several societal and cultural factors influencing this trend, but a few that immediately come to mind include the following:
Young Women are Better Employees Than Young Men
This will run down the line of some slippery stereotypes, but for most part, anyone with direct knowledge of these things will see the truth in most of it. Young men who have recently graduated from college, starting their careers in large urban centers, bring the same mentality they had through four-plus years of less-than-strenuous academic pursuits.
Many young men see their first years out of college as the fraternity house with better pay and only a slightly larger inconvenience of having to go to work as opposed to class.
Especially in large cities, big firms have a slew of entry-level positions that can be filled by relatively unmotivated and unskilled recent college graduates, most of whom bring little more than their actual degree to the table.
Young men tend to gravitate toward these positions, and will also travel in groups to do so. It's not uncommon for several members of a graduating class to work in the same large firm upon graduation.
Young women recently out of college, however, often bring with them a sense of adulthood and a desire to start to shape their lives in a way that they've envisioned. They tend toward nicer living quarters, often take a more intense interest in their first jobs, and look earnestly for opportunities to grow in their professional surroundings.
If you've ever visited the apartments of young women just out of college, and those of young men just out of college, you will understand that there is simply a different standard of living in most instances, with the higher standard almost always being that of the women.
That insistence on a better living environment is a trait that usually translates well to the workplace. Young women will almost always take their first professional job more seriously, and are likely to bring more value to a hiring company than their male counterparts.
Men in Middle Management are Paying More for Young, Single, Childless Women
This theory, if you want to call it that, is actually more disturbing than the original issue of women getting paid less than men. As such, it's probably a little far-fetched.
Perhaps young, single, childless women are making more than men because they are being hired by slightly older married, divorced, or generally miserable men who are attracted to those types of women.
While more women graduate from college in the U.S. every year than men, it's safe to say that more men still hold the hiring positions in middle management in the large firms that dominate the hiring scene in major cities.
As a result of men being in the position to hire, who's likely to get more money in today's world? A young, single, childless woman or a young, single, childless man with the same qualifications? The answer is obvious, of course. Hopefully, it's not applicable, and is just a reach back to a Mad Men world that is rapidly fading from memory.