A college degree is a more lucrative investment for a white man than women or minorities.
Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce conducted a study that showed the two groups are underrepresented in the highest paying fields, like engineering and computer science. MarketWatch reports that black students are more likely to go to less selective school with smaller budgets that can’t afford the expensive equipment or higher paid professors those majors require.
According to some studies, STEM careers can be particularly hostile environments for women and minorities. Fortune previously reported that one study showed 100% of women of color experience bias in those fields, likely making it a less appealing option.
Because women fall into lower paying fields, it logically follows that they make less money later in life, making it more difficult for them to pay back student loans. It’s even more difficult for minorities who are less likely to come from wealthy families; so not only do they make less than their white male counterparts, but they also owe more.
Three years after graduation white men have paid back 44% of student loans on average. That number falls to 33% for women, 9% for African American women, and 3% for Hispanic women.
Anthony Carnevale, one of the authors of the report, told MarketWatch that even if they have the same major and the same occupation as white men, women and minorities still make less money, suggesting that some of the wage gap can only be attributed to discrimination.