pay gap

What Are the Best Career Fields for Women Trying to Avoid the Pay Gap?

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Kate Harveston

Not your typical liberal millennial.

No, I’m not happy about the title, either, but unfortunately at the present time, women find themselves scouring the market to find careers where they overcome the pay gap and earn as much or more than men. We live in a society that touts itself as a meritocracy. Meritocracy is the notion that people can achieve success in the form of wealth, status, and power on the basis of hard work and talent alone. This philosophy discounts the role systems of oppression such as sexism, racism, and ableism play in an individual’s ability to succeed.

The gender pay gap is apparent when we look at the research. As an average in the U.S. economy, women earn 82 cents per $1 earned by a man. Glassdoor researched over 50,000 CVs to deduce that across the 50 most studied college majors, within five years of graduating, men earn an average of $56,957, whereas women take home only $50,426.

Allow me to address the standard response given to debunk the pay gap. It is true that the majority of the top high-paying majors are male-dominated (such as engineering, computer science, etc.), and the lowest-paying are female dominated (healthcare and admin). However, even when comparing the exact same college major, men still earn more — the gap persists.

There are a few college majors and corresponding careers where women actually have a chance at earning as much or more than men. Equal pay across all fields would be the ultimate ideal, not to mention we still have a long way to go when we look at how the gap increases for minority races and the LGBT community. In the meantime, as we work toward equity, it’s important to acknowledge silver linings, like the ones detailed below. Note the pay differences for each.

  1. The Music Industry – Women Receive $1.10 for Every $1.00 to Men

When you think of the term “pop star,” what gender typically comes to mind? It’s common to think of female stars, and that may be because women actually tend to get paid more than men in the music industry. Not all jobs have equal pay, but a recent music salary guide shows progress, especially for women in career fields like music therapy (salaries of $135,000), music law (salaries of $150,000) and conducting (salaries of $225,000).

One of the reasons the music industry is great, besides the less existent pay gap, is that in recent years, it’s become more LGBT-inclusive. The arts have long provided a haven for minority groups, as these fields offer a platform for people of all races, sexualities and preferences to bring their cultural experiences to public attention. However, it still stands that there is racial inequality in the industry at all levels, so it’s time to shift the focus from looking solely at gender and sexuality in music to including a discussion on race as well.

Keep in mind that, while it may be true that women can earn more in the music industry, it is fairly unrealistic for most people to become pop stars. But women who dream of stardom may just have a slightly higher chance of making it than their male counterparts.

  1. Architecture – Women Receive $1.14 for Every $1.00 to Men

Studies show women who work in architecture actually earn more than men by a large percentage. If you think you may be interested in any job relating to architecture, chances are good that you’ll be paid well no matter what job you get.

Women in the field report that architecture is still a largely male-dominated field, but that the improvement in the pay gap is a result of women in the field working hard to demand more from their employers. Women offer unique artistic expertise when it comes to erecting beautiful and diverse works of architecture. Employers in the field know this, and are likely more receptive to female demands than employers in other fields might be.

Architecture is also being used to fight inequality, specifically towards racial injustice. Workers in the field are striving to promote a racially diverse culture through the buildings and statues they choose to devote their time to. However, there are some in the LGBT community who still feel more work needs to be done.

LGBT employees in this field say that although they largely feel comfortable being open about their sexual orientation in the studio, they still don’t often feel as comfortable with clients, at industry events, and on construction sites. Continuing to work toward changing old stigmas in this field will hopefully create a more inclusive experience for LGBT architects in the future.

  1. Advertising – Women Receive $1.08 for Every $1.00 to Men

This field has been undergoing a lot of changes since the rise of social media in the last decade or so, and women have taken it by storm. Advertisers can come in a variety of forms, from women working out of an office on social media ads to women working from home as paid sponsors for companies.

The intersection of online marketing with the technology community proves to provide excellent job opportunities for women. Historically, women in tech have not had a major role, and that still exists in today’s tech world. Women only hold 25% of IT jobs and own 5% of tech startups. However, with the rise of internet marketing, women are putting their creative skills to use and making new advances in the tech world every year.

Much like women are still working to break through in the tech world, the LGBT community is trying to reach new heights as well. Initiatives like oSTEM are attempting to earn the LGBT community more of a presence in the world of technology.

While jobs in communications have shown over time to be fairly inclusive experiences no matter what your race or gender identity is, Wall Street recently made news when Goldman Sachs asked prospective employees what their sexual orientation was. How friendly a company is depends on who’s running it, so do your research before applying even to fields that are considered safe.

  1. Social Workers – Women Receive $1.08 for Every $1.00 to Men

There’s a common stigma around social work that it won’t earn you much and that it’s emotionally taxing, and there are some truths behind those myths. However, women tend to be exceptionally good at social work, and women who work as social workers or are getting an education to become one can take hope in the fact that the gender wage gap is virtually nonexistent. In these careers, women actually earn 8 cents more on the dollar than men.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that even in fields where women earn more than men, race and sexual orientation also play into pay. For example, the pay gap can increase by ten to twenty percent for African American and Hispanic women. In addition, gay and transgender workers are paid less as well because of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. This only highlights that we still have a long way to go in regard to how we make our gender-inclusive job fields more intersectional.

The gender wage gap is something that some people try to wave away as a made-up problem, but when you look into it, the issue of women being paid less than men simply because of their gender is unavoidable, and worsens when you add in race and sexuality. It affects nearly all job fields, which makes it difficult for women to plan on having both a successful and well-paid career.

However, not all jobs will underpay women. There are many factors that go into the wage gap, and the availability of jobs in different fields is one of them. By doing research before applying for jobs, women can increase their odds of achieving equal pay if they know which fields have made the most progress in that area.

At the same time, if you think progress is being made because you secured a well-paying job, you have to think of others who may not have the same advantages because they belong to another minority group, such as people of color and the LGBT community. Overall, some career fields have become associated with pay equity. Be sure to do your research and find a company that treats its employees ethically — they’re sometimes hard to find, but they’re out there.

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