The Consequences of Career Choice: Family and Income Disparities among Women in Science and Other Elite Professions
Anne McDaniel, Columbia University
Claudia Buchmann, Ohio State University
Women now attain bachelor’s and graduate degrees at rates that equal or exceed rates for men. Despite this progress, sex segregation in fields of study persists especially in STEM fields. Women's choices to enter into science or not, and to enter into physical science or engineering versus other elite professions may be due to their assessment of different levels of compatibility with family goals for various prestigious careers. Using data from the 1980 to 2000 Census and the 2009 American Community Survey, we analyze trends over time in highly-educated women's occupational choices and the consequences of their choices in terms of marriage, fertility and earnings. We find that the women in science professions earn less than women in other elite professions, like medicine, law and business, but do not experience drastically different family arrangements or wage penalties for having children compared to other elite professions.