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Academia’s Gender Pay Gap Grows Wider

Topics: Data & Research

Women’s salaries in academia are growing, according to U.S. Department of Education data analyzed at The Chronicle of Higher Education — but not enough to close a persistent gender pay gap. In fact, the data show that pay gaps are widening at many institutions.

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The Gender Breakdown in Academia

We all know that the majority of K-12 teachers are women. However, where full professor jobs are concerned, men outnumber women two to one. On the other hand, women occupy the majority of lower-paying assistant professor and lecturer jobs. In part because of this, women working in academia earn considerably less than men. (But there is also more to it than just that.)

The average salaries of job titles in the industry illustrate the divide. The average salary of a full professor, for example, is $111,000. Assistant professors, on the other hand, earn just above $67,000, on average. The Chronicle of Higher Education has made this data available at; it’s searchable by rank, college, state, etc., and includes information about faculty, staff, and adjunct pay.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

This analysis helps to direct our attention toward factors that influence the pay gap, such as the opportunity gap. Even today when women earn more degrees than men, they still hold many fewer positions in the highest ranks of academia. In 2011, they held just 27 percent of presidencies across institutions of higher learning.

The Pay Gap Is Widening Despite Wage Growth

Because women hold different positions in academia than men, on average, pay increases impact the genders in different ways. So, despite the fact that women’s salaries have actually increased more than men’s in this industry in recent years, the gap continues to grow wider.

At The Chronicle of Higher Education, Joshua Hatch explains:

Even though the year-over-year percentage increases in average salaries were higher for women across most ranks, the pay gaps widened or stayed virtually unchanged. That’s because male faculty members already earn more than their female counterparts. For example, in 2014, male full professors earned $113,766. Their 2.8-percent increase added nearly $3,200 to that figure. For female full professors, who earned an average of $95,692, their 3.1-percent increase resulted in a pay increase of less than $3,000. As a result, the pay gap for full professors widened by more than $200.

How to Fix the Pay Gap

As these institutions of higher learning show us, even when women’s salaries increase, the pay gap can continue to widen. The only way to truly right this wrong is to face it head on.

Two years ago, Canada’s McMaster University addressed its gender pay gap by giving female faculty members a $3,515 (about $2,900 US) pay increase. The process was inspired by a report from the Council of Canadian Academies, which identified pay inequities in institutions of higher learning. The university performed their own analysis, finding a pay gap that couldn’t be justified by rank or skills, and accordingly made a pay adjustment.

Tell Us What You Think

How should our institutions of higher learning respond to the results of this survey? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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