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Women in research and development win modest salary gains

Women who work in research, development, and quality assurance continue to fare better than their male counterparts in terms of salary-increase percentages , according to a national survey conducted by Industrial Research & Development magazine.

But the publication cautions that such results can be misleading, for of all women respondents, only about one-third are earning annual salaries of $31,000 or more. Nearly three-quarters of male respondents are earning that salary level.

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This disparity in salaries can be traced directly to years of work experience. Median years of experience for males in R&D is 16.4, while median years of experience for women is only 8.2. In addition, there is a far greater proportion of women with less than six years of experience (36 percent) than for men in that category (12 percent).

Another major factor contributing to the salary disparity is the number of women with PhDs - an advantage estimated to be worth at least $7,410 a year in additional income in R&D. Only 21 percent of all women respondents have PhDs, while 33 percent of all men respondents have attained this goal.

While such statistics appear to pose a formidable challenge for women, the publication points to a number of areas in which women have made progress in the industry. For example, the work-experience averages for women are slowly inching up, as are the number of women earning PhDs. In addition, the percentage of women earning $55,000 or more a year has grown to its highest level since the survey began 18 years ago.

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