After years of earning less than their male counterparts, some American women are catching up to and even overtaking men in terms of how much they earn, but only some of them, a study shows.
They are single women in their 20s without children, who live in large cities and work full-time, according to a report by Reach Advisors, a New York-based strategy and research firm focused on emerging shifts in the consumer landscape.
Those young women earn on average eight percent more than men in their age group, but in some cities, like Atlanta in Georgia and Memphis, Tennessee, women earn around a fifth more than men, according to Reach Advisors' analysis of Census Bureau data.
On average, American women who work full-time earn about 80 percent of what men earn.
The report says that one reason young, single women are overtaking men in terms of earnings is because girls are "going to college in droves."
Nearly three-quarters of girls who complete high school go on to university, compared to only two-thirds of boys.
Women are one-and-a-half times more likely than men to graduate from university and to obtain a masters degree or higher, the report says.
Census data released in April showed that women overtook men in terms of holding advanced degrees in 2000, with 58 percent of all US master's degrees or PhDs awarded to women.
As women go further in their education, they are also holding off on getting married and starting a family.
They're not holding off on buying a home, though: the percentage of single women who bought homes for the first time has increased by 50 percent from the 1990s, to 24 percent of all first-time home-buyers in the United States in 2009, the report said.
Families with children, who have driven the market for community developers and home builders since the end of World War II, made up just 23 percent of households in 2009, the report said.
Young, solvent women are also "fueling the expansion of healthier high-margin items" at fast-food restaurants, and sports that have flourished in the past decade have done so because of women, the report said.
Running, for instance, grew by 41 percent over 10 years, and 93 percent of the sport's growth was due to women's participation.
Young men, on the other hand, are ordering significantly more items from the dollar menu at fast-food establishments and men's participation in most sports has remained flat in the past decade, said the report, for which the researchers pored over data from more than 2,000 communities.