Gender pay gap closes for PhD grads, new study finds, but not other degrees

In this April 6, 2016 photo, fans stand behind a large sign for equal pay for the women's soccer team during an international friendly soccer match in East Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Women who graduate with PhDs will get paid the same amount as their male counterparts, according to a new University of Guelph study, but the gender pay gap remains in place for other postsecondary graduates.

The study, Employment and Wage Gaps Among Recent Canadian Male and Female Postsecondary Graduates, found that women and men with doctoral degrees have “virtually identical” earnings three years after graduation.

“This is the first time that I’ve seen at any level that there is no discrepancy in earnings between males and females,” David Walters, a University of Guelph professor who assisted with the study, said in a statement on the school’s website.

According to the study, the average pay for both male and female doctoral graduates is around $70,000. The authors of the study speculated in the report that this could be because many PhD graduates work in public sector organizations that typically have stronger labour standards and collective agreements focused at reducing the wage gap between men and women.

While the gender pay gap appears to have closed for PhD graduates, the situation is drastically different for all other graduates.

The study found that the largest gender pay gap in earnings three years after graduation was among trade and community college graduates. Men working in trades earn about $40,500 on average, while women in the same careers earn about $32,500 average. Male graduates with college diplomas earn an average of $45,500 while women with the same credential earn an average of $38,500.

When it comes to university undergraduates, men earn an average of $55,000 within three years of graduating, while women earn an average of $50,500.

At the same time, the study found that more male graduates are able to find full-time work after graduating (87 per cent) than female graduates (79 per cent). The study also found that women were twice as likely (16 per cent) to be employed part-time than men (8 per cent).

The study, published in the journal Higher Education Policy, was based on data from the 2013 National Graduate Survey, a Statistics Canada report that surveyed 28,715 people three years after graduating from various levels of post-secondary education.

Anthony Jehn, the lead author of the study, said in a statement that more work needs to be done to equalize employment opportunities for post-secondary graduates.

“Employers may need to implement stronger policies to reduce the persistent gender pay gaps in much of the Canadian labour market,” Jehn said.