Why women (like me) choose lower-paying jobs

Why women (like me) choose lower-paying jobs

The other day, I was interviewing an economist who studies the effect college majors have on peoples’ income. He was telling me that women often make decisions that lead them to earn less than they otherwise might.

Women are overrepresented among majors that don’t pay very well (psychology, art, comparative literature), and underrepresented in lots of lucrative majors (most fields in engineering).

And even when they choose high-paying majors, women often don’t choose high-paying jobs. For example, math is a pretty lucrative major, and more than 40 percent of math majors are women. But women who major in math are much more likely than men to go into lower-paying professions, like teaching.

Midway through the conversation, I realized that the economist — Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University — was basically talking about me. I described my situation to Carnevale: I majored in applied math. I have an MBA. And I’m working as a reporter at NPR.

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