* Women are an underutilized resource in the United States economy, according to a report from the Department of Education.

Although women are investing heavily in their own education and skills, they are not seeing the payoff in their careers, concludes the study, "Women at Thirtysomething: Paradoxes of Attainment."

Using the high school class of 1972, the study tracks the educational careers and work experience of a survey of men and women from high school graduation to the age of 32. The women sampled had no children.

Women's educational achievements were superior to those of men, but their rewards in the labor market were "thin by comparison," the report states.

No matter what subject they studied, women had higher grade point averages in college, received more scholarships, and completed their degrees faster than men.

But between age 25 and 32, a much higher percentage of women than men experienced unemployment. "This phenomenon held stubbornly in the face of educational attainment," the report notes.

Women achieved pay equity with men in only seven of 33 occupations: computer programmer, electrical engineering technician, buyer, research worker, high school teacher, editor/reporter, and computer equipment operator.

In some cases, the amount of math studied in college relates to pay equity, the study found. In five mainly business-related fields, women who took more than eight credits of college-level mathematics earned equal pay to men.

"If we take women's know ledge contributions for granted or ignore them at the same time we treat men's knowledge as proprietary and rewardable, we have a half-economy," the report warns.

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