Young women outearn men -- in some fields

5 stunning stats about women in the workplace
5 stunning stats about women in the workplace

Do women really make 77 cents to every man's dollar?

The situation isn't quite so grim for young female college graduates. Women ages 22 to 27 who have a bachelor's degree get paid almost as much as their young male peers. Sometimes, they even get paid more.

Among recent college graduates from 2009 to 2013, women earn roughly 97 cents for every dollar young men earn for doing the same job and having similar qualifications, according to new research from economists at the New York Federal Reserve.

But there's a lot of variation.

Men still earn way more than women in some fields -- a whooping 21% more in agriculture, for example. But young females who majored in social services, treatment therapy and industrial engineering actually beat men by 10% or more.

Related: There's still a pay disparity between men and women. But millennials are closing the gap

"According to our estimates, newly minted female college graduates earn as much as, or more than, men in 29 of the 73 majors," economists Jaison Abel and Richard Deitz found.

Women who major in these fields are paid particularly well (more than men) after graduation: engineering, treatment therapy, art history, construction services, or business analytics.

On the other hand, young men who major in these fields still get a lot higher pay: agriculture, animal and plant sciences, general social sciences, or early childhood education.

The Federal Reserve of New York research is more evidence that young women are closing the pay gap, but it remains to be seen if pay will stay about equal throughout their lifetimes.

Problems in mid-career: By ages 35 to 45, the pay gap currently widens. Even in fields where young women are doing well like engineering, females in the "mid-career" phase aren't. Men are getting paid substantially more across the board.

"For this mid-career group, we find that men earn about 15% more than women, much larger than the 3% figure we found for recent college graduates," the researchers wrote.

Many point to women having children and leaving the work force or, at least, scaling back for awhile. That can hamper their job prospects and cause them to fall further behind. When they reenter the job market, they have less experience than similarly aged males.

No wonder women are almost twice as likely to retire into poverty.

But there are concerns that the pay gap may reflect deeper issues than women making choices about balancing family and work. Silicon Valley has become the hotbed of sex discrimination lawsuits. Facebook (FB, Tech30) and Twitter (TWTR, Tech30), both of whom have predominantly male workforces, were sued by their female employees for gender bias and harassment earlier this year.

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