In a year that brought highs and lows for many graduates, the salary gap widened again with a 14.9% chasm between women and men. While women’s salaries experienced a small upward spurt of 1.9% between 2010 ($42,205) and 2011 ($42,990), average annual salaries for men surged by 15.1% to $50,500 (up from $43,845 in 2010). Regionally, the Southeast ($43,317) achieved the best rate of growth (6.8%) and outpaced both the Midwest ($42,376) and the Southwest ($42,543); women in the Southeast were recipients of some of the positive growth, with salaries that improved by 4.7% over the previous year ($42,035 in 2010 compared to $40,058 in 2009). However, women experienced declining salaries in the Midwest, Southwest, and West.
In attempting to pinpoint where the gaps occurred between men and women, jobs in administration ($72,108 and $41,791, respectively), private industry ($68,461 and $47,118, respectively), and information technology ($59,555 compared to $57,800) showed the greatest disparities between the sexes. Proportionally, a higher percentage of men (52.3%) earned salaries above the national average of $44,565, and achieved some of the top salaries among the graduates, taking home paychecks at $125,000 and $150,000 when compared to the women (36.8% above the national average).
Additionally, women dominated the public library job market (83.5% of the jobs), where the lowest average starting salaries were offered ($37,399 for new public librarians). This is further compounded by the percentage of women who accepted nonprofessional jobs (80.9% of the nonprofessional placements), which historically are lower paying and which were prominent in public libraries. This downward spiral was exacerbated by the low public library salaries in the Southeast, where women earned an average of $32,910, though this was 3.3% higher than men’s salaries for the same positions ($31,822).
Women, for a second year in a row, did exceptionally well in negotiating higher salary levels in knowledge management ($50,833) relative to the national average, though not to the same level as 2010 ($66,875). They also achieved better than average salaries in the area of information technology ($57,800) but again not reaching the high of $60,380 in 2010. These types of jobs contributed to the modest growth in women’s salaries and helped to counterbalance the effects of lower paying public library jobs and nonprofessional positions.
Another way to examine the profession is through the experiences of the graduates claiming minority status. For the last several years minority graduates ranged from 10% to 13% of the participant pool; 2011 was no exception at 13%. Repeating past years’ trends, minority grads achieved salaries that were above the national average by 8.8% ($48,841) and saw better growth in those salaries from 2010 to 2011 (up by 8.7%, or $4,239 higher), far outpacing the 5% rate in overall salaries. The gold winner is the 26.7% jump in salaries for other agencies, hurdling from $47,129 in 2010 to $64,291 in 2011.
Along with the meteoric salary swing, minority graduates also had the highest placement rates in other agencies (32.4%), landing in positions related to information technology, user experience, and emerging technologies. As in the previous year, academic libraries offered lucrative opportunities to this group of graduates with strong employment rates (26%) and above-average salaries ($44,659 vs. $43,554 nationally).
The two aspects that marred the achievements for minority grads included a small decline in salary levels in the Northeast, which fell 3.3% to $48,478 (compared to $50,088 in 2010), though these remained above the average for all grads in the same region ($45,624). Meanwhile, 35.8% of minority grads reported accepting part-time jobs, which was somewhat higher than the national level of 23.6%, though it is important to keep in mind that in some cases part-time employment is a deliberate choice rather than a result of circumstances.
Women claiming minority status fared much worse in the gender gap, with average starting salaries showing an eye-popping 25.5% disparity compared to their minority male counterparts ($45,775 compared to $61,482). However, they stayed ahead of the national average for all women ($42,990). Additionally, salaries achieved in 2011 by the minority women were 6.4% higher than 2010 (compared to $42,834).
For all the Placements & Salaries Survey tables,
see “Explore the Data“