AKRON, Ohio — The University of Akron is working to close the gender wage gap by setting its students up for success early—an effort that has placed them among the top schools in the Midwest, according to a recent study.
A workforce analysis focused on R2 universities, or universities with doctoral programs and high research activity ranked the University of Akron 12th on a list of highest-earning female alumni under the age of 40 in the Midwest.
The average salary of female alumni under 40 at the University of Akron sits at $129,167.
Female grads earning higher salaries early is a testament to closing the gender pay gap in terms of both the uncontrolled pay gap—or opportunity for jobs between men and women, which in 2022 sits at $0.82 for every dollar that men make—and the equal work pay gap, which has closed but still sits at $.99 for every dollar that men make.
Dean of the University of Akron’s School of Law Emily Janoski-Haehlan knows firsthand how important the school's efforts are.
“It’s very important for me personally. I am the first female dean of the School of Law," Janoski-Haehlan said. "I’m very proud to tell anyone who wants to hear that I shattered that glass ceiling here that other women can follow in my footsteps.”
Janoski-Haehlan said that in her program, there is a concerted effort to prepare grads for employment right out of college. To address the disparities women face, there are specific programs dedicated to creating equality post-graduation.
“We do promote our women graduates as well as our male graduates. We have programming specifically designed for women and successful careers for women because we have so many outstanding women who are alumni," Janoski-Haehlan said. “I think our curriculum has a lot to do with that. We focus on experiential learning with our students, from the first year. We incorporate clinics, externships and skills classes and skills training into the curriculum.”
From networking opportunities with alumni to collaborations with local law firms and agencies, the University of Akron's law program aims to help its graduates climb the ladder faster and close the opportunity gap.
One of those collaborations is with the School of Accountancy, another program contributing to the university's success at closing the wage gap.
"We collaborate with the School of Accountancy that you can actually do a joint degree with law so you can have a law degree and a masters in accountancy,” Janoski-Haehlan said. “We produce practice-ready graduates and I think that that shows in their careers because they’re ready to hit the ground running.”
Alecia Bencze, assistant director of Career Services, is a Univerity of Akron alum and now works to help get students ready for a career after graduation. She said that transparency with salaries is another way the school helps fight the wage gap.
“Our hope is always to help close any sort of wage gap that is out there. We do have all of our salary information on our website and so students are able to go through and get some of that data," Bencze said. "I think that having the information and knowledge as much as you can is always helpful to bring some of these things to light.”
Bencze said that having conversations about salary can help students better understand how much they should be making and prevent disparities in pay for equal work.
“We definitely always have open conversations with our students. If it's something that they want to discuss or they have concerns and they want to know if an offer they’ve received is comparable to other offers or what they could maybe expect from other firms or organizations, we’re always happy to have that conversation,” Bencze said.
The study that ranked the University of Akron listed the top programs like law, nursing, and accounting with top employers listed as Cleveland Clinic, Akron Children's Hospital, and GoJo—but Janoski-Haehlan is hopeful that the work the School of Law has done to prepare students to enter the workforce making more money early can be shared and replicated across other programs as well.
“I think the school of law can partner with other disciplines—with arts and sciences, with nursing, with the college of business—and we’ve been talking about those collaborations and how do we make sure that our graduates are successful, including our law graduates or our School of Accountancy graduates," Janoski-Haehlan said. "So not forgetting about them but partnering with other departments and making sure that women and men are just as successful.”
Also making the list was Cleveland State University, which ranked No. 13 on the list with female alumni making an average salary of $128,954 and top programs including law, healthcare, and business administration.
You can read the full list here.
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