Women’s Student Debt Crisis in the United States

This report reveals that women also take on larger student loans than do men. And because of the gender pay gap, they have less disposable income with which to repay their loans after graduation, requiring more time to pay back their student debt than do men. As a result, women hold nearly two-thirds of the outstanding student debt in the United States — almost $900 billion as of mid-2018.



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Live Stream AAUW’s Solving the Equation Launch
AAUW’s latest research report on women in STEM, Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing, will be released on March 26, 2015, with an event and panel discussion at Samsung’s new research headquarters in Silicon Valley. We know how much you care about AAUW and our STEM programs, so make sure you sign up to watch the event as it happens.

Candidates for the 2015–17 AAUW Board of Directors
It’s time to meet the candidates! When voting opens on April 15, members will select the AAUW president, vice president, and 10 directors. It’s your AAUW, so learn about the candidates and make your voice count.

Gear Up for Graduation Season
With a blue and green graduation cord, students can show their AAUW pride when they walk on graduation day. Give the graduates you know an AAUW cord and a free AAUW membership to honor the occasion.

WBR Article

AAUW convention looks at pay inequity
By MJ Clark

April 17, 2013 —

The Wyoming branch of the American Association of University Women met in Casper April 13 and 14 and, for the first time, devoted their entire convention to a single topic: the pay gap.

Wyoming continues to have the largest pay gap in the United States, where women earn just 67 percent of what men do. Some of this disparity has been explained away by those who note that many of the high-paying jobs in mining and oil and gas attract more men than women. Others have even suggested that the blame lies in women as a group just not asking for more money.

“Wyoming has the worst pay gap in the nation, and it’s been that way for many, many years,” said AAUW State President R.C. Johnson. “I stand in opposition to the former governor [Freudenthal] who said it’s the women’s fault for not negotiating.”

Johnson has hosted numerous seminars to teach women better negotiating skills, but she said “My great-great granddaughter could still be doing it and we still wouldn’t have reached all the women in this state.”

This realization led to AAUW taking a different approach this year: working to influence policy because it “covers much more people than holding negotiating workshops,” Johnson said.

So the group invited two representatives from AAUW’s national organization, Samantha Galing, associate director of field operations and Catherine Hill, the director of research, to give them information and support on becoming more active. Wyoming historian Phil Roberts presented a historic view of women in the Equality State; NAACP President James Simmons addressed the civil rights aspect of pay inequality and League of Women Voters lobbyist Marguerite Herman presented a guide to Wyoming’s law-making process.

Researcher Catherine Hill pointed out that drilling down into the data, the pay gap between men and women persists within every industry in the state.  Looking at college graduates a year after graduation, female graduates across the United States are making just 82 percent of what male graduates earn. Again, the pay gap persists across every type of degree except education, health care, biological and physical sciences and the humanities. The largest pay disparity is in computer and information sciences, where women make 77 percent of what men do. As bad as that gap is, it doesn’t come close to Wyoming’s gap of 67 percent.

Noting that the Wyoming Legislature often commissions studies and then does nothing about them, Johnson pointed to a blue-ribbon study done in 2002 and 2003.

“The study, paid for with our tax dollars, went nowhere and resulted in no change,” Johnson said. “It’s a testament to the capacity of our legislature to be a part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.”

In contrast, the AAUW studies always conclude with suggested steps for change. Johnson noted that the AAUW has the reputation of being a “tea and cookies” kind of organization, but that the Wyoming chapter of the AAUW planned to use the issue of equal pay for equal work as a catalyst to become more active and influential within the state.

For more on the pay gap in Wyoming, watch for the Wyoming Business Report’s first-ever special publication on business women in Wyoming, coming in July.


The Wyoming AAUW 2013 convention held true to its theme “Policy Matters” when it met at the Ramada Plaza Riverside in Casper on April 13th and 14th.   The convention launched the campaign to change the policies that have caused and maintained the gender wage gap, especially the Wyoming wage gap, the worse of all fifty states.

Speakers and presenters from National AAUW came to support the state effort.  Samantha Galing, National AAUW, Associate Director of Field Operations and Catherine Hill, National AAUW Director of Research, provided information about the pay equity laws that have been enacted in 17 other states, and described the impact of the wage gap on families, businesses and communities.

Other convention presenters shared crucial information for the policy change initiative.  Dr. Phil Roberts described the “Origins and Evolution of the Wyoming Wage Gap” in terms of the connection between the idea of “women’s work” and low wages.  Marguerite Herman conducted the follow-up discussion to the film “Iron Jawed Angels” and focused on the importance of the vote and accessing the Wyoming Legislature at key points in the law making process.  James Simmons, civil rights activist, highlighted the civil rights connection to the wage gap policies.  In addition, Simmons also described his posiive experience of training and employing women truck drivers in one of his business enterprises.

The Wyoming AAUW, headed by R.C. Johnson, will be calling on AAUW branches, state and local organizations and individuals to use every means possible to change the policies accounting for the scourge of the Wyoming gender wage gap.   This long term commitment is the first of its kind in Wyoming and AAUW, being true to its mission of empowering women, is providing the leadership for the long overdue transformation.