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Female faculty earning less than males at Iowa universities

University of Northern Iowa

Female educators of every rank at Iowa’s public universities are paid significantly less than their male counterparts, an annual report by the American Association of University Professors showed.

The group released its annual survey of U.S. public and private institutions this month including data on full-time faculty salaries for the 2013-2014 academic year.

At the University of Iowa, full-time female professors make about $20,000 less than males on average.

It’s less stark at the University of Northern Iowa, where full-time female professors make about $10,000 less.

“It feels terribly unjust,” said Catherine MacGillivray, head of UNI’s Department of Women and Gender Studies. “Historically, women are paid less because it’s assumed they were not supporting families, and that’s still embedded in the system even though that’s no longer the case.”

On average at Iowa’s universities, women constitute about 25 percent of full professors, 41 percent of associate professors, 50 percent of assistant professors and 57 percent of instructors, the lowest-paid positions.

“If we were to break that down in regard to discipline, what we’d expect to find is that there are more women full professors in lower-paid disciplines than men,” she said, noting that women tend to be in lower-paying humanities fields than higher-paying science or technical fields.

“We’re at least lucky, working for a university, that we have access to everyone’s salaries. In other jobs, you sign releases stating that you won’t ask others how much they make. But that’s one of the best ways to maintain discrimination.”

To mark Equal Pay Day 2014, President Barack Obama signed two executive orders Tuesday which prevent federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages and require contractors to collect wage data on their employees.

But the gender pay gap in academia won’t disappear overnight, said Phyllis Baker, head of UNI’s department of sociology, anthropology and criminology.

Part of the problem is the “gendered reward system” that exists within academia, Baker said, noting that publishing research boosts salaries.

“The university doesn’t discriminate against somebody who takes family leave, but … when you’re in a system that rewards for publishing and you aren’t doing that as frequently because you’re taking care of an elderly parent or family, you’re just not going to make as much money,” she said.

Today, women working in all professions across the U.S. make between 77 percent and 82 percent of what men make, and the discrepancy is greater for women of color, Baker said. Even in women-dominated occupations, like registered nurses or secretaries, men earn more.

“There’s still a lot of stereotypes, expectations and assumptions being made about women’s dedication to their career,” said John Curtis, AAUP director of research and public policy who co-authored the report. “Assumptions are made still, and I find this amazing, that women are going to drop out at some point because they get pregnant.”

Curtis said full-time female faculty in the U.S. earn about 81 percent of what men earn. The gap thickens at research institutions, but women and men are generally paid equitably at community colleges which boast a higher percentage of women faculty but at lower-paying positions. Women are also less likely to be in most senior faculty positions and less likely have tenure and make the rank of full professor.

Much of the reason this disparity exists is the lack of information about salaries shared openly with faculty.

“Theoretically all salaries are public info, but there’s no requirement that the information be made easily accessible,” he said. “That would enable women and men to compare their salaries with each other and get a sense of what the patterns are.”

UNI is the only Iowa university with a faculty union, United Faculty. During its 2012 contract negotiations, the union secured higher step increases across all faculty ranks.

“The idea is that it would be a greater benefit for those newer, lower- salaried members of the faculty who are predominantly women,” said Joe Gorton, president of United Faculty. “This is an important and complex problem that is nationwide in scope. It is not a problem that Untied Faculty can solve on their own.”

Officials at UNI did not return a request for comment. (WCFCourier)

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