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Study: Women undervalued at work

American women may be brighter, more enthusiastic and potentially more productive than men, but they still are underpaid and unappreciated in most jobs, a federal report has found. Clifford Adelman, who studied women in their early 30s for the Department of Education, found them "more positive" than men of the same age toward working conditions, relationships on the job and the development of new skills.

"They were, in short, more enthusiastic and potentially productive workplace participants at the same time that they were under-rewarded," Adelman said in his report titled "Women at Thirtysomething."

The report is based on a study of how 22,600 graduates of 1,000 high schools in the Class of 1972 were doing 14 years later. Men were compared with women who did not have children by age 32 and would have had similar work experience.

The study found that women were "far stronger" students in high school than men and completed college more quickly. "Women's grade point averages in college were higher than men's, no matter what field they studied," said the report.

The report concedes that women often favor courses in human services and humanities in college, while men take more business, science and mathematics courses. But it points out that women who did take college math courses tended to earn higher grades and make more money than men.

"More math means more money for women," Adelman said.

Among the findings in his report:

Between ages 25 and 32, a much higher percentage of women than men experienced genuine unemployment, no matter what degree they had earned in college.

In only seven of 33 major occupations did women achieve pay equity with men. In five other occupations, four of them business-related, women who took more than eight credits in college-level math earned as much as men.

The seven occupations in which women earned as much as men were computer programer, electrical engineering technician, research work, high school teaching, buyer or purchasing agent, editor or reporter and computer equipment operator.

Surveys of the Class of '72 found that men were more interested in being successful and having lots of money and leisure, while women were more interested in being a leader in the community and working to correct social and economic inequalities.

Adelman concluded that the failure to treat bright women fairly in the labor market is bad for the country because it tells men they can "slack off" in school and still do well in the outside world.