Women must turn to 'male' fields for better salaries, study says

Fewer than 1 percent of American women earn over $25,000 per year, compared with 12 percent for men, and women college graduates continue to earn far less than men, the January issue of Working Woman magazine reports.

In fact, the magazine says in releasing its ''Third Annual National Salary Survey,'' the average male high school dropout earns $1,600 more than the average female college graduate. Whereas male college graduates enjoy a median income of $19,433 per year, female graduates earn only $12,028.

''MBAs and affirmative action notwithstanding, women still earn only 60 percent of men's earnings,'' author Teadra Allen writes in a survey article accompanying the magazine's pay findings. She points out that ''over 75 percent of women work in lower-level occupations: clerical, health care, teaching, etc. Instead, women must seek opportunities in the usually male-dominated, higher-paying fields - for example, computer technology, engineering, accounting.''

By 1990, the magazine says, the number of working women will increase from today's 43 million to 84 million. Promising fields for them to enter include chemistry, accounting, engineering, computers, and the stock market. Of computers, the magazine says, ''This is the career choice for the 1980s. Women can command excellent starting salaries, averaging $18,000 with a BS in business.'' The author adds that a college degree is not always needed to learn programming.

Curiously, architecture, advertising, and accounting are the three areas that pay worst for starting-level jobs. Architecture can pay as low as $9,868; advertising as low as $10,000; and accounting as low as $11,500. But for those who persist in accounting, the magazine notes, a chief accountant can earn $45, 000 to $50,000 a year. Architects rarely get up that high, with a principal architect-partner earning $34,988. A good salary for an advertising account supervisor ranges from $32,000 to $45,000, the magazine says.

Fashion buying is another field where entry level pay is low, at just $10,000 a year. And a junior copywriter at an advertising agency starts at $10,000 to $ 14,000, too.

The best entry-level pay category included in the study turned out to be in personnel work. An entry recruiting supervisor starts at between $20,000 and $22 ,000 per year, the magazine says. Increments, though, are slow over the years, until one becomes an industrial relations specialist, starting at $36,000.

The second best job category at the entry level is engineering, where a BS holder can expect to start at $20,000.

Manufacturing is the third best field, with $19,800 to start.

Fourth is marketing research, which starts at $18,000.

Fifth, law, which starts at $17,000.

Sixth, college teaching, which starts at $17,000 also. A full professor, however, earns just $29,500 at the top of his career, compared with $90,000 or better for a full partner in a large firm.

Seventh, stock brokers, who start at $16,800, and can move up to $60,000 or better handling institutional accounts. The magazine says, ''Women can make as much as men on Wall Street. Since sales earnings usually are based on commissions, the sky is the limit, and there probably are more women making $100 ,000 and over on Wall Street than anywhere else.''

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