Female 'A+' Students End Up Making As Much As Male 'C' Students

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If you want to make more money, it helps to do well in school, but it helps even more to be a white man.

The better your grades in high school, the more money you are likely to make later in life, according to a study by researchers at the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University. But gender apparently matters more than grades: A woman with a 4.0 high-school GPA still makes less, on average, than a man with a 2.5 GPA, the study found.

The study also found that minorities tend to benefit less dollar-wise from getting good grades than their white counterparts, even though African-American and Latino high-school students with high GPAs are more likely to continue their schooling than white students with good grades.

The chart below, from the study, shows the difference in earnings for men and women based on high school GPA. Men are in red, women are in green. These are average salary figures for people aged 24-34.

chart

Women do at least enjoy better percentage pay bumps than men as their grades improve: The study, based on high-school transcript data and interviews of more than 10,000 students, found that, for men, a one-point increase in GPA translated to an 11.85-percent increase in annual earnings, compared to a 13.77 percent annual earnings increase for women. Still, the higher percentage increase isn't enough for women to catch up to men because their base salary starts off so much lower.

The research, which will be published in the upcoming issue of the Eastern Economic Journal, adds to the growing body of evidence that women earn less than their male counterparts, even when they have similar qualifications. That gap begins as soon as women enter the workforce. Both high-school and college-educated young women earn less than men with the same degrees, according to a recent study from the Economic Policy Institute.

That gap only widens as women advance in their careers. That’s partly because women are more likely to take time off to have and raise children. In addition, women often face conscious and unconscious discrimination as they climb the corporate ladder.

Another factor is that women often end up in lower-paying fields like education and health care. While there is certainly some self-selection involved, many girls are also socialized from an early age to be less interested in careers that tend to make more money, like engineering or technology, experts say. In addition, some argue that majority-female occupations are often valued less monetarily simply because they’re made up of mostly women.

Other research shows that minority job-seekers face widespread discrimination when applying for jobs. Indeed, the black unemployment rate has been almost twice as high as the white jobless rate for the past 60 years.

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