Women Professors' Salaries Have Gone Up More Than Men's — But the Wage Gap Is Still Widening
A new "Chronicle of Higher Education" analysis of U.S. Education Department data reveals some seemingly good news: The salaries of women in academia are going up. But here's the bad news: They're not increasing nearly enough to catch up with men's. Not only do women at the highest levels earn less money than men (and in some cases, it's even less than what men in junior positions make), but women, on the whole, hold lower-ranking positions at universities across the country.
In their research the "Chronicle" collected data from 4,500 colleges across the U.S. Among full professors, the highest rank studied, men's salaries went up 2.8 percent between 2014 and 2015. During that same time period, women's salaries increased 3.1 percent. Sure, this sounds promising at first glance, but because men were being paid so much more to begin with, it only made the wage gap wider. Case in point: Male full professors made around $117,000 in 2015, compared with about $98,700 for women. With a gap of around $18,300, women made approximately 84 percent of what men earned — slightly above 2015's national wage gap of 80 percent.
And the situation only seems to get worse when it reaches a higher education level: A 2016 JAMA study of medical school professors found that female full professors made roughly the same as male associate professors.
On top of that, fewer women are full professors in the first place. Men hold over two thirds of full professorships, according to "The Chronicle's" analysis, whereas women make up the bulk of assistant professors, lecturers, and instructors. This imbalance also contributes to women earning less: The average pay for full professors in 2015 was $111,000, compared with $79,621 for associate professors and $67,466 for assistant professors.
This is just one disadvantage women face in academia. They also experience gender bias at the hands of students and fellow faculty alike. One "ScienceOpen Research" study found that when one professor taught the exact same online course under two different names, they got lower rankings when they went by a female name. And a United Nations University - Merit study found that women scientists were doing higher-quality research but were less likely to get promotions.
Seeing women professors' salaries go up might be encouraging — if there weren't so much other work needed to rectify gender inequality at universities.
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