Carla Fried: Gender wage gap -- saying yes too soon can be costly

Carla Fried, on

Published in Business News

By one estimate, over a 40-year career the persistent lower pay for women translates to a lifetime earnings penalty of $500,000 less than what men earn (for white women) to more than $940,000 less (for Black women) and $1.1 million less (for Hispanic and Latino women).

Among the causes: gender wage bias by employers; the unequal division of household work that causes many women to take time off to care for family; and a disinclination at times among women to forcefully negotiate pay, especially since such assertiveness at times leads to a backlash.

Now, another cause has surfaced. New research finds female undergrads rush to nail down their first job faster than men, and in doing so may miss better offers.

Job search anxiety

Academics studied job-hunting habits and initial salary offers for more than 1,300 undergrads at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University between 2013 and 2019.

There was no gender difference in the number of job offers, nor the tendency to turn down a job offer. But female students were more inclined to accept a job earlier than male classmates, by an average of one month.


Among those accepting offers during the summer (August) heading into their last year of school, women earned 17% less than men, on average. By graduation, the wage gap had narrowed to 10%. (The data takes into account different majors — marketing vs. finance — and GPAs.)

Granted, that 10% gap is still problematic — it worked out to an average gap of around $6,000 — but the research suggests that being a bit more patient can pay off.

The overconfidence game

Why the difference between genders in timing?


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