To bridge the wage gap, encourage more women to pursue philosophy

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A photo of bookshelves with busts of philosophers lined up next to them. “To bridge this disparity between men and women, we must address the problem occurring in philosophy degrees, not just the STEM degrees.”  Photo by    Giammarco Boscaro    on    Unsplash

A photo of bookshelves with busts of philosophers lined up next to them. “To bridge this disparity between men and women, we must address the problem occurring in philosophy degrees, not just the STEM degrees.” Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

Since the rise of third-wave feminism, there has been a plethora of campaigns to eliminate income inequality between men and women. When addressing that women earn 72 cents for every dollar a man makes, President Obama stated rather ambiguously, “Women deserve equal pay for equal work.” Whether that statement implied that women are paid less for the same work as men is unclear, but if that’s what President Obama meant, it is factually incorrect. Women do earn 72% of what men earn, but not for the same work or the same hours. Many feminists argue the reason women work different jobs and shorter hours than men is through societal force encouraging them into rigid gender roles, an idea I see as plausible.  

Most efforts to bridge the wage gap focus on the lack of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). As the organization, Girls Who Code says on their website, “Girls Who Code is on a mission to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.” If a greater number of girls and women entered STEM, they would earn more compared to men, which is why it is especially important to foster this interest at a young age.  

I’m not denying that efforts encouraging women and girls to pursue STEM helps in fact, I support it. However, encouraging women and girls to enter STEM isn’t the only way to shrink the wage gap. There are other areas to encourage women and girls to enter, specifically philosophy. If we encourage women and girls to pursue philosophy while also encouraging them to pursue STEM, those who end up not launching a career in STEM are more likely to begin a career in philosophy.  

Why philosophy? Aside from it being my area of intellectual interest since before I was old enough to become aware of its political cause, there are many economic incentives to studying philosophy. According to Bouree Lam of The Atlantic, “Although philosophy majors rank 75th on PayScale’s overall list of majors at mid-career earnings, it’s the top humanities bachelor’s degree in their ranking—from early career all the way to later career.” The stereotype that all philosophy majors are predestined to be minimum-wage employees for life is just that: a stereotype.  

Unfortunately, many women aren’t reaping the benefits philosophy has to offer. As Justin Weinberg of Daily Nous says, “According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, about 32% of philosophy bachelor’s degree recipients in the U.S. are women, a lower percentage than in almost any other discipline outside of engineering and the physical sciences.” To bridge this disparity between men and women, we must address the problem occurring in philosophy degrees, not just the STEM degrees. It’s time we end this long-overdue war on the humanities as we rise up to allow women to pursue a variety of high-earning careers. 

Philosophy is the highest scoring major on the GRE, something important to consider when having a master’s degree is expected to be the norm by the time Generation Alpha, the generation after Generation Z, enters the work force. Philosophy scores higher on the verbal section than, yes, even English majors by a total of three points. It is also the highest scoring major on the LSAT. Encouraging women to pursue philosophy is crucial towards equalizing the wage gap in disciplines such as law, where women already begin to outnumber men. Advanced degrees are exponentially important for our society and for feminism; the average salary for someone who’s obtained her master’s is $69,732 per year, and for a PhD, $84,396.

Third-wave feminism should promote the long, intellectual tradition of philosophy alongside its pro-STEM rhetoric. Philosophy is my passion; I only wish the majority of young girls loved it as much as I do. There ought to be no war between STEM and the humanities, two separate causes working tandem to each other, promoting feminism and economic growth. I’d like to see more people joining my philosophy campaign but, until then, keep pondering. Remember this: STEM isn’t the only viable option.  


Samara Karow is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at samara.karow@uconn.edu.  

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