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Salary Gaps in US Faculty

S L Forsburg nospamforsburg at salk.edu
Tue Sep 7 19:39:41 EST 1999

I recently found the results from a faculty survey, conducted by the
Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.  ( http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/heri/Faculty_Overview.html)

 The takehome:  US faculty is aging;  personal stress in increasing; 
diversity 	of the faculty has not changed in 10 years, and gender 
disparities persist. "Women faculty continue to remain underrepresented
in the most prestigious  institutions.... Women also continue to serve
in the lower academic ranks more often than do  men....[and] are also
less likely to be tenured."  

Moreover, the salary gap still exists, even when broken down by academic
rank:  "...women’s salaries come much  closer to men’s, with women
earning between 91 and 95 cents for every dollar earned by men in the
same rank. While these figures suggest that gender equity in salary has
nearly been achieved,  it is  important to note that even a small
difference in annual salary makes a substantial difference in  income
earned over the span of a career. For example, a difference of only
$1,000 in current annual salary makes a difference of approximately
$85,000 over a 40-year career."

Yes, well, none of us is surprised, but still, what is the justification
for paying an assistant professor more because he's a man?

My theory:  they probably start at the same level, and then the men get
larger merit increases.  The problem is that every academic is
different--no one else has precisely the same training and experience,
so that opens the door to subjective evaluations which will favor the
more agressive, usually male faculty who fits the expected pattern.  I
doubt whether it is even conscious. 

And this certainly extends to issues beyond salary, such as those
brought up in the MIT report: space, resources, teaching load....

Or awards (recall the Swedish study, where women had to have better
qualifications than men to receive the same score for fellowship
competitions:  http://vax.library.utoronto.ca/www/wow/article2.htm).  

And once you start with the inequities, then they  become entrenched and
self-perpetuating--because the guy with the extra space and the big
award will get noticed and rewarded further, even though he's not really
better than the guy without.

What will it take to fight this subconscious, but pervasive gender bias?

(All these articles are on the W-i-B Launch Page)

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S L Forsburg, PhD  forsburg at salk.edu
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab          
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA 

Women in Biology Internet Launch Page
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