Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

It Is Still a Man's Game-Discrimination of Women in Pay and Promotion

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

It Is Still a Man's Game-Discrimination of Women in Pay and Promotion

Article excerpt


There are many studies that demonstrate there are gender differences in academia, primarily in the areas of promotion and pay, but studying gender differences solely restricted to these two variables misses some of the subtle forms of discrimination that exists in academia. Academia is a very different environment from the business community. The process of determining pay increases and promotions are made behind closed doors and the decisions are frequently highly subjective. Universities maintain a tight hold on the confidentiality of the decision itself as well as all of the informational input leading to the decision. There is great room for subjectivity that opens the doors to bias and discriminatory decisions. This paper is attempting to examine the formal theories of what accounts for differences and anecdotal information about the more subtle forms of discrimination.

As more and more women enter the labor force, there should logically be a similar increase in the number of women working in academia. By 2003,close to 60% of all women aged 16 and older were in the labor force. The U.S. Department of Labor has projected that this figure will reach nearly 63% by the year 2015. One of the most significant changes that took place in the 20th century was the rise of women managers. In 1900, only 4.4% of managers were women. By 1999, more than 45% of all managers were women, a tenfold increase. In fact, over the last 20 years, women have increased their representation in nearly all of the professional occupations.

One of the professional occupations that experienced a shift in female participation is postsecondary education. In 1983, approximately one-third of those faculty members employed in colleges and universities were women. By 2002, that number had increased to 42.7%. Similarly, in the business disciplines, over the same time period, female participation has increased from approximately 36% to 42%. (1) However, while participation has gone up, the representation of women in various levels of academia is not what would be expected if all things were equal. Women earn more than half of all graduate degrees, but hold only 24% of full professorships, 31% of tenured positions, and 40.9% of tenure track positions. (2)

But while the overall representation of women is increasing, women seem to be gravitating towards particular fields such as the social sciences rather than the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) disciplines. If this is so, it stands to reason that women in the social sciences would have pay levels and promotion rates that are closer to men, since their representation in these feels is great than those in the STEM disciplines. One particular area, Colleges of Business, tend to reflect trends that are ongoing in the marketplace. this paper is going to concentrate on two areas of gender discrimination: academic pay and rates of promotions. In particular, focus will be on these issues and on Colleges of Business to see if the academic community demonstrates more equality than the business community. There are gender issues that seem to be common between the academic community and the business community. For example, gender discrimination claims are particularly common in tenure disputes. (3) The two primary areas of gender discrimination in academia seem to be over salaries, promotions, and the award of tenure. (4)

Pay Issues in Academia

According to one estimate, women as assistant, associate, and full professors on average earn only 83% of what their male counterparts earn. (5) There are many tales about inequity in the workplace, but the number of studies, which focus on pay differentials, is on the increase. The disturbing thing is that one would think that an academic environment would not present the kind of bias and differential treatment that women in the private sector experience, but it does seem that the problem may actually be worse than what goes on in the business community. …

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