Due to my strong inclinations towards social issues, I decided to explore the gender pay gap that existed at the University of Iowa. Although I received mixed opinions from school officials, the general consensus from faculty members was that there was indeed a pay gap, that was caused by several complicated reason, instead of just one reason.
UI male professors were paid $138,105 on average in the 2014-15 school year, while female professors earned $120,348, according to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education. While UI faculty members do claim the existence of a pay gap, some UI officials assert that the incongruities reported in the data should not be taken at face value.
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Gender pay gap at the UI results in mixed opinions from school officials.
By Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin
Despite being the first state university in America to admit men and women on an equal basis, gender pay discrepancies among faculty members at the University of Iowa continue to persist, according to newly released data.
UI male professors were paid $138,105 on average in the 2014-15 school year, while female professors earned $120,348, according to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
While UI faculty members do claim the existence of a pay gap, some UI officials assert that the incongruities reported in the data should be not taken at face value.
“Although there are many factors involved, I believe that a male with my publication record and years of seniority would likely receive a somewhat higher salary,” said a senior female professor in the English Department, who preferred to remain unnamed.
Katherine Tachau, a UI history professor and president of the UI American Association of University Presidents, said she is not surprised by the wage gap because she tried addressing the issue when she was the Faculty Senate president in 2000.
“The timing of this discovery is very opportune, with respect to Title IX,” she said. “So I think the moment is propitious to raise the issue of gender equity across the board on this campus because the problems that have appeared to exist in athletics are part and parcel, part of a society that has decided it’s not important to prioritize parity among women and men.”
On Monday, federal investigators began a weeklong, on-campus probe in response to a complaint that the UI Athletics Department does not provide equal opportunities for female athletes.
The gender wage gap at the UI is also evident through data collected by the Equity at Iowa Project — a group that explores open data found in the Iowa State Employee Salary Book.
The group is a joint collaborative effort between Judith Pascoe, a UI professor of English, and Wendy Robertson, a UI scholarship librarian, who have been sharing salary charts of different UI colleges since 1993 on their website.
One chart from their research showed that female faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences had a lower median base salary at every other professional rank compared to the median base salary for male faculty members in 2015.
In response to data released by the Chronicle, Nic Arp, the director of strategic communications in the liberal-arts school, wrote in an email that achieving parity, across all areas of the College, has been a strong commitment of both the school’s most recent former dean and the college’s current dean in faculty hiring, and will continue to be so.
There are many factors that go into faculty salary comparisons other than gender, such as length of employment, large differences among the different disciplines, etc., Arp said in the email.
Pascoe said one way to address gender pay gaps is for deans and chairs of departments to be aware of the issue, especially when giving raises. She also said she hopes millennials would start demanding equal pay across genders.
“The DEO of the department could look at the department, and think about who’s on committees and who’s been made to serve on committees, and see if that can be balanced out,” Robertson said. “Within the libraries, it would be more of a mentoring, so that they can move up to management, and try to promote growth.”
Senior Higher Education Researcher for the AAUP John Barnshaw said one factor that contributes to the gap is the differences that are expected of women outside of academia.
Despite women’s considerable gains in science in recent decades, female scientists do nearly twice as much housework as their male scientist counterparts, said Barnshaw, citing a 2010 report by AAUP.
UI Associate Provost for Faculty Kevin Kregel said data from the Chronicle provides a general broad insight of the issue, but there are so many caveats to consider before interpreting such data.
“What you’re looking at is a mean salary number for all faculty at a certain rank across our university. There are significant difference in salaries for male faculty, for example, in the college of medicine compared to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” he said. “It’s really not reflective of what’s going on specifically within a college or a comparison within the department.”
Kregel said it is the goal of the UI to make sure that there is salary equity among faculty and staff members. He said salaries are based on many different factors such as experience, level of degree, and disciplinary area.
He said the Provost’s Office is in the process of wrapping up the Faculty Gender Factor Analysis report that has been going on since late last fall.
The report is currently a draft document, which will be undergoing an internal review process and therefore, there is no definitive time frame for the dissemination of report contents, Kregel said.
“We’ll be evaluating specifically where we can look at collegiate level and start separating out. Our Faculty Gender Factor Analysis is going to start evaluating and looking more carefully,” he said.