These colleges are mostly smaller, private schools on the East Coast and specifically those in northeastern states like New York and Massachusetts. Many are popular with women majoring in health professions, business, education, or visual and performing arts.
Collectively, these schools graduate a high number of women in healthcare and significantly fewer men overall. Alumni of these schools tend to work in education, healthcare, and business. Interestingly enough, only 20 of these 45 colleges are majority-white, according to data from the Postsecondary Value Commission.
Median salaries for men and women at these schools ranged from $27,422 to $72,722. While these schools do have a reverse wage gap, it is dramatically smaller at these colleges than at most other schools, where women's salaries lag far behind those of male graduates.
Wheaton College is the school with the highest reverse wage gap. Female graduates at Wheaton earned a median of $63,079, while men earned $54,212 (nearly a $9,000 wage gap).
The school with the highest earnings for women is Hamilton College in New York. The small college has very strong salary outcomes for most majors with salary data, including math, computer and information sciences, economics, and East Asian literature and linguistics.
Trends and Insights
Most of the schools where women earn more than men are located up and down the East Coast, with a concentration in northeastern states. These locations partially track with comparatively lower wage gaps in New York and Maryland, although a handful of schools are located in states like Massachusetts with significantly higher wage gaps.
Notably missing are West Coast and southwest colleges. This is particularly surprising given the high number of colleges in California, a state with one of the lowest gender pay gaps in the country. This may be due in part to the tech-dominated labor market on the West Coast, an industry which has gained attention for its pervasive wage gap.
Field of Study
Graduation data from IPEDS shows that, at least in recent years, many of the colleges where women earn more than men are highly popular with women in healthcare majors. Many graduates went onto work in nursing, an industry that is dominated by women with median starting salaries nearly $20,000 higher than the average across majors. This seems to be the driving factor for women's higher median salaries than male graduates at many of these schools.
Men at these colleges favored degrees in business, social sciences, and health professions, although there were far fewer male graduates than female graduates.
Employment data from Burning Glass Technologies, an analytics company that offers employment information on college graduates based on social media profiles, illuminates career pathways for these alumni.
For graduates who finished college at these schools from 2007 through 2012, Burning Glass data shows education and healthcare stand out as top industries. Common healthcare jobs include registered nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and doctors.
Degrees in business and psychology were also popular for women at these schools. Many alumni now work as business analysts, general managers, business owners, or CEOs. Other popular careers include researchers, teachers, professors, school administrators, software engineers, or lawyers, many of which are highly paid professions.
Previous studies found that HBCUs made up the majority of schools where women earn more than men, and attributed it to an increased gender disparity at HBCUs coupled with worse graduation rates and other outcomes for men.
Today, 15 out of the 45 colleges where women earn more than men are HBCUs. These 15 schools have some of the lowest median salaries for both genders of the schools on our list. However, it's important to note that HBCUs are primarily located in southern states, where the cost of living and salaries tend to be lower.
The exceptions are three HBCUs in Maryland and Florida A&M University, where the dominant degree pathways are in healthcare and business. Today, those Maryland HBCU alumni largely work in education or public administration. Top employers include public schools, universities and university medical systems, or government agencies.
Tracking Women Closing the Wage Gap
While statistics about the gender pay gap today may be discouraging for champions of equal pay, there are some positive notes. There are a record number of women in U.S. politics and STEM, and at least 10 states have enacted new legislation to help close the wage gap since 2018.
It is worth looking at the colleges where women earn more than men to track which institutions, degrees, industries, and organizations are best supporting progress toward wage equity.
So far, a growing number of small private East Coast schools, HBCUs, and those who graduate many women in healthcare and business majors have supported female graduates as they strive for equal pay. Hopefully more colleges will make this list in the future as women continue to enter fields they historically have been barred from.