University study finds female faculty earn $3600 less

Turner says it's premature to make causal claims, Simon promises to examine equalizing wages


A recent internal study showed female professors at the University are paid $3,638 less than their male colleagues on average.

Education and Economics Prof. Sarah Turner, one of the two University officials who spearheaded the report along with Law Prof. Kerry Abrams, vice provost for faculty affairs, said it is premature to draw any conclusions about the University’s institutional treatment of female employees.

“[This study is] significant in the statistical sense that there is a residual difference in the salaries of male and female faculty members that is not explained by field, rank and experience,” Turner said in an email. “As noted in the report, the quantitative analysis is insufficient to determine the cause of any observed salary disparities between demographic groups.”

Correlational studies, such as the ones provided in the report, can only provide evidence linking two separate variables, or trends. Such studies cannot provide causal analysis or explain why those trends are linked. For example, this report simply states gender differences and discrepancy in pay exist. This does not mean sexism is causing the correlation between these two variables. Rather, this correlation could be the result of a host of other variables, Turner said.

“Salary disparities [between genders] can result from various causes, including differential institutional practices in salary setting, differential opportunities or work assignments, variations in faculty productivity or some combination of these factors,” Turner said.

Turner said more analysis needs to be done to determine causality. The Provost office would complete the analysis and investigate the causes of the salary difference across demographic groups, a job Turner said it is taking seriously.

Executive Vice-President and Provost John Simon said the Provost’s office is working to fix the problem now and emphasized students should push University dialogue on the matter.

“You could fix it with money, but that’s just a Band-Aid if you don’t know why,” Simon said.

Though the University is certainly not an outlier in the gender pay gap, that does not necessarily mean this recent study’s findings are good, Simon said. In a letter to faculty, Simon said some salary adjustments would be likely.

“Even though the task force was unable to reach conclusions about disparities based on race or citizenship, we will be closely scrutinizing individual cases to ensure that any appropriate salary adjustments are made,” Simon said. “Although the report’s findings would suggest that women’s salaries are more likely to require adjustment, this process will include both men and women to ensure that all faculty members whose salaries were found to exhibit a statistical parity difference receive fair and equitable review.”

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