Engineering professions tend to offer employees a competitive salary due to the high skill sets required to work in this occupation. However, on average, women engineers in the United States earn less than men, despite advances to achieve gender equity in the profession.
Additionally, racial and ethnic disparities in pay make this problem even more complex. Here’s an overview of the current gender earnings gap in engineering and a description of the intersection of the gender pay gap and race in STEM occupations.
The Gender Pay Gap in Engineering
Engineering, a profession traditionally dominated by men, has seen an increase in the number of women entering engineering occupations. Unfortunately, a gender pay gap persists, but varies by discipline.
According to the 2021 U.S. Census Bureau, women working as mechanical engineers have the smallest earning gap, receiving 95% of the salary of men in the same field on average. In comparison, women civil engineers earn 85% of what their male counterparts make. However, the disparities are not limited to gender alone.
Earnings Gap for Women of Color in STEM
There are noticeable pay gaps in the STEM workforce between men and women from different racial and ethnic groups.
A report from the Pew Research Center indicates that in 2019, the median earnings for individuals working in STEM professions was $77,400. However, when you break down the earnings by race and gender, Asian men earned $103,300 ― the highest salary for STEM workers.
On the other hand, Black and Hispanic women earned the lowest wages across racial groups with a median salary of $57,000 ― 55% of the annual salary earned by Asian men.
Addressing the Gap
Bridging the gender and racial pay gaps in engineering requires a systemic approach. Employers must ensure pay equity for all employees, regardless of gender or race.
Inclusive hiring practices, mentorship programs, and promoting diverse leadership can help create a more equitable work environment. Additionally, studies have shown that women negotiate less aggressively than men, leading to lower starting salaries and slower wage growth.
To learn more about the gender pay gap in engineering and explore the different earnings by discipline, visit the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) website. SWE’s research provides valuable insights about the current gender pay gap and describes efforts SWE has made to address the gender pay gap.
Bureau, U. C. (2022, November 30). American Community survey 5-year data (2009-2021). Census.gov. https://www.census.gov/data/developers/data-sets/acs-5year.html