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9 college majors with the biggest gender pay gap

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The gender pay gap is largely understood by economists to be an enduring problem in the labor market, but the causes continue to spark debate.

Occupational sorting, or how women and men sift themselves into traditional "female" and "male" jobs, is one explanation for why women earn about 20 percent less than men. Those divisions begin even before Americans hit the workforce, according to a new study from employment site Glassdoor. It found that college majors lead to a significant difference in what men and women earn five years after graduation.

Even though almost six out of 10 bachelor's degrees are awarded to women, college majors that lead to high-paying jobs in fields like engineering tend to be dominated by men, the study noted. Yet even when men and women study the same subject in college, men often are making more than their female counterparts five years later. One reason: Women are hired for lower-paying roles within the same field.

"You would expect new grads to find a level playing field when it comes to pay, but they generally don't," said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor chief economist, in a statement. "Glassdoor's analysis shows an 11.5 percent average pay gap among new grads in the early years of their careers."

The gaps remain even when workers are examined by their college major, which Chamberlain pointed to as "a clear sign of societal pressures and gender norms at play in the career paths of young workers."

Some of the biggest pay gaps witnessed by recent grads with the same college majors are among traditionally male fields, the research found.

"We can now see significant pay gaps emerging from the same majors -- and that's a major problem," said Dawn Lyon, Glassdoor vice president of corporate affairs and chief equal pay advocate.

The findings stress the importance of educating recent grads about salary negotiation techniques, as well as employer training on hiring and recruiting, she added.

While women with college degrees on average face a pay gap of 11.5 percent five years after graduation, in about 10 fields young women out-earn their males colleagues. The top one is architecture, where women make 14 percent more than men, followed by music, where women's paychecks are 10 percent fatter than their male colleagues'.

On average, men are earning $56,957 annually five years after they get their college degree, compared with $50,426 for women.

Read on for the nine college majors with the biggest gender pay gaps five years after graduation.

9. Marketing: -10 percent

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One of the most common college majors, marketing ranks ninth on the list of the biggest gender pay gaps five years after graduation. For every $1 male marketing majors earn, women earn 90 cents.

The average salary for young men with marketing degrees is $50,000, compared with $45,000 for women.

8. Business: -10 percent

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Business ranked as the most popular U.S. college major in the 2014-15 academic year, when almost 364,000 men and women earned undergraduate business degrees.

Women with business degrees earned 90 cents for every $1 men earned five years after college. On a dollar basis, that translates to $45,000 on average for women, compared with $50,000 for men.

7. Industrial Engineering: -10.8 percent

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One of the highest-paying college majors, industrial engineering suffers from the seventh largest pay gap.

Women earn $58,000 to their male counterparts' $65,000 five years after graduating. On a percentage basis, that's 89 cents for every 100 cents males earned.

6. Biomedical Engineering: -10.9 percent

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Another STEM field tied to high pay after college is biomedical engineering, but grads nevertheless witness divergent compensation arcs early in their careers.

Women earn $53,450 per year on average, compared with $60,000 for men, or 89 cents for every $1 men earned.

5. Health Sciences: -11.1 percent

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Women with health sciences degrees earn an average of $40,000 five years after college, compared with $45,000 for their male colleagues. On a percentage basis, women earn 89 cents for every $1 men earned.

One reason for the pay gap: Women tend to take lower-paying jobs in the field after graduating, even though they have the same degree.

4. Human Resources: -11.6 percent

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As in health sciences, human resources graduates who are women tend to be hired for lower-paying jobs compared with men.

As a result, women earn $44,222 per year, or just 89 percent of the $50,000 men earned.

3. Biology: -13 percent

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Women with biology degrees earn 87 cents for every $1 men earned, or a difference of 13 percent.

Women tend to take lower-paying jobs after college than men, Glassdoor said. Male biology grads earn about $46,000 on average five years after college, compared with $40,000 for women.

2. Mathematics: -18 percent

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Women are underrepresented in college math programs, which counts as one of the majors with the highest pay after graduation.

A degree in math doesn't mean a woman isn't getting shortchanged, however. Women earn just 82 cents for every $1 their male colleagues earn five years after graduation. On a dollar basis, that means women earn $49,182 annually compared with $60,000 for men.

1. Health Care Administration: -22 percent

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Health care administration, which tends to be less technically rigorous than more lucrative STEM careers, ranks as one of the lowest-paying college majors. Yet that doesn't shield women in the field from earning less than men.

Women with health care administration degrees earn 78 cents for every $1 men earned. Five years after graduation, men enjoy a $51,250 median base pay, compared with $40,000 for women.

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