Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Pay Scale: New Evidence Suggests Some Colleges and Universities Are Taking Bold Steps to Even out the Playing Field When Hiring and Retaining Female Faculty and Staff

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Pay Scale: New Evidence Suggests Some Colleges and Universities Are Taking Bold Steps to Even out the Playing Field When Hiring and Retaining Female Faculty and Staff

Article excerpt

It's no secret that, as a demographic, female faculty, staff and administrators at colleges and universities across the nation have long been financially compensated at a much lower level than their male counterparts.

And while this remains ostensibly the case, new evidence also seems to suggest that, at least in certain areas of higher education --most notably in administration--some colleges and universities have been taking bold and aggressive steps to both hire and retain women by offering them impressive salaries that are commensurate with those of their male colleagues.

This trend may ultimately signal a shift in long-overdue pay ranges for thousands of women at colleges and universities across the nation, but it's also important to note that the overall gender pay gap--particularly in higher education administrative positions --is "not narrowing," says Dr. Jacqueline Bichsel, director of research for the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources CUPA-HR.

According to Bichsel, who authored a study titled "The Gender Pay Gap and the Representation of Women in Higher Education Administrative Positions: The Century So Far," the gender gap in higher education has been fairly consistent for the past 15 years.

"Women are equitably represented in administrative positions as a whole," says Bichsel, who presented her findings at CUPAHR's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. last year. "However, there are fewer women in higher-paying leadership positions."

In positions where women are drastically underrepresented, Bichsel says the data also indicates that women are typically paid more than their male counterparts, which may indicate efforts to attract and retain these women in these positions.

Challenges outside of the academy

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, there was a renewed effort to call attention to the glaring gender gap that persists in everyday life. The nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democratic nominee--the first time a major political party has nominated a woman to head a presidential ticket--prompted a variety of discussions about women's rights, including equitable wages.

Nationally, women tend to earn 83 cents for every dollar men make. That number is up from 77 cents about a decade ago.

But according to the Equality of Opportunity Project, male graduates of Ivy League schools earn 30 percent more than their female counterparts.

"We know there is a gender imbalance in employment at some of the occupations at the very top of the income distribution," says Dr. John Friedman, an associate professor of economics at Brown University and one of the co-authors of the Equality of Opportunity study. "Most colleges--non-selective four year schools, and even most selective four-year schools--aren't putting too many people into the Goldman Sachs of the world."

Challenges & opportunities

Still, despite the disparity, there is much to celebrate. Female academicians have made major strides, holding roughly half of higher education's administrative positions across the United States, according to Bichsel of CUPA-HR.

But despite those gains, there have been steady setbacks too. …

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