Mar 30, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

It is possible for women to earn the same salaries as men. The hitch? They’ll need to earn an extra degree to make it happen.  This is just one of the findings of a recent, eye-opening wage gap report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. Here’s a closer look at other takeaways from the study.

Outperforming but Still Losing

According to “Women Can’t Win: Despite Making Educational Gains and Pursuing High-Wage Majors, Women Still Earn Less than Men,” while women now outperform men in terms of educational attainment across all levels of postsecondary education, their salaries still fall short of those earned by men. Specifically, women earn just 92 cents for every dollar earned by their male peers with the same academic qualifications and holding the same jobs. In the general population, meanwhile, women earn just 81 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Additionally, women with high school diplomas are unable to make family-sustaining wages; a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is necessary. Furthermore, the gap grows wider at the graduate level -- largely because women pursue degrees in lower-paying fields, such as counseling and education.

The report further reveals that the US continues to lag behind other developed countries, such as France and Norway, due to less supportive laws for women with children and/or those providing care for older relatives.

Turning the Tables

Says lead author Anthony P. Carnevale, “Women’s earnings still lag their exceptional educational progress. At the heart of the gender wage gap is discrimination in pay for the same set of qualifications and experience.”

So what can be done to correct the imbalance and finally reach equality? The report concludes, “Solving the gender wage gap will require more than just new laws. It will require a new cultural approach. Women need more flexible work options that build upon women’s rights established under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Women should not have to surrender their careers (and high earnings) when they decide to start a family. Solving the earnings disparity will also require people to alter the cultural norms and stereotypes that they communicate to young girls. The stories we tell and the people we admire should not limit young girls’ horizons; rather, they should fill young girls with hope for what is possible.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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