In 1872, the earliest year for which such statistics are available, 21 percent of college students in the United States were female. Today, that number is 58 percent and rising. It has truly been a stunning ascendancy. And yet there is still a considerable economic price to pay for being a woman. For American women twenty-five and older who hold at least a bachelor’s degree and work full-time, the national median income is about $47,000. Similar men, meanwhile, make more than $66,000, a premium of 40 percent. The same is true even for women who attend the nation’s elite universities. The economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz found that women who went to Harvard earned less than half as much as the average Harvard man. Even when the analysis included only full-time, full-year employees and controlled for college major, profession, and other variables, Goldin and Katz found that the Harvard women still earned about 30 percent less than their male counterparts.

–from SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner