Working women
Do women enter majors with lesser paying potential? Image Credit: Stock photo

According to a 2019 study by the Ohio State University, women gravitate towards majors that have lower earning potential than ones men choose. Youngsters discuss whether this puts blame on women for the wage gap and why women might be making such education choices?

Different choices

Picking a major is subjective

Women might pursue their major with the intention of earning more financially but this could be highly subjective. Given the nature of where the individual comes from, the decision of choosing a major is affected and considering how women normally end up in a low income environment is truly because of how men are rendered with more opportunities. So no matter how big of a major you have or strong it is, society is a lot more biased than it looks.

Also another key factor to bear in mind is the fact that low income jobs usually fall under the industries of services and philanthropy where proclivity is higher among woman than men considering how women can be more passionate about giving back than men. I myself am a law graduate who is running a youth organisation that gives individuals the opportunity to give back. Hence, this makes me believe that it’s not just the major that plays a role in women being underpaid.

From Ms Meenakshi Muraleedharan

Philanthropist based in Sharjah

External factors

Females are choosing all kinds of majors

As someone who chose law as their major, earning potential being a preference is something I get quite a bit, along with statements on the long hours, persistent clients and sheer determination and grit needed to make it through. While the latter aren’t exactly preferences, they are factors that come into play when realistically choosing a major. And I do agree with the premise of the study, in that, even if income potential is a preference, the reason why both genders end up on different ends sometimes with respect to the actual income earned is due to the existing perception of certain majors as being less receptive towards women. From personal experience, I would say, in the legal industry, despite what public opinion dictates, I see more and more women entering the field. In my graduating class itself, the majority gender was female. And so, I don’t think it’s all bad, perhaps it’s outdated gender roles or perhaps something else, but I do know that it is changing and becoming more receptive and that the data will reflect that soon enough.

From Ms Salma Abdussalam

Paralegal based in Dubai

Gender roles

Expectations play a part in the careers women choose

I think it is important to note that circumstances are not entirely universal. Overall, socioeconomic status in a country and cultural values play a large role. I found that most of the young women I know from conservative families are expected to obtain degrees in fields that would allow them to work as teachers due to breaks that coincide with the school year, which would make raising children ‘easier’. Jobs that have little to no upward mobility are also a preferred career route for women in certain regions, such as government jobs related to data entry so that women could act as an extra income channel to the household. In many ways, the cultural ideals society has are reflected in patterns within the workforce. In some countries for example, women are encouraged to pursue nursing due to the high demand abroad, which allows women to send remittances to support their families and ultimately their countries’ economies; contrary to the above observation, women in this case are often expected to be the sole breadwinner. I think major choices of women are unfortunately tied to their roles within the context of the family, rather as individuals.

From Ms Amna Abudyak

​International relations student based in Sharjah

Poll result

Do you think women choose majors that have lower earning potential?

Yes: 30%

No: 70%

Have your say

What external factors stop women from pursuing high paying careers?