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November 9, 2006

Gender Inequity: AAUP report faults higher ed

Women faculty at Pitt on average earn only 74.8 percent of what men faculty here earn, which puts the University in line with the national average among like institutions of higher education.

Similarly, Pitt is comparable to its U.S. doctorate-granting peers for other gender equity indicators, according to a new report issued Oct. 26 by the Association of American University Professors (AAUP).

(For responses by Pitt officials to the AAUP report’s analysis, see related story this issue.)

The report’s main message: While gaps in salary, promotion and tenure between men and women have been closing over time, endemic gender inequity continues to be a fact of life in higher education, particularly among research institutions, and that fact is detrimental to the institutions.

The report, titled “AAUP Faculty Gender Equity Indicators 2006,” states: “The barriers for women in higher education not only raise questions of basic fairness, but place serious limitations on the success of educational institutions themselves. Colleges and universities are not taking advantage of the widest talent pool when they discriminate on the basis of gender in hiring or promoting faculty.”

The AAUP has been collecting gender-specific faculty salary data and has advocated for gender equity since 1918, the report states. “The present report represents both a continuation and an expansion of this effort. … Reviewing comparative data across a large number of higher education institutions, it becomes more obvious that women’s status varies greatly. Accordingly, the AAUP has developed a new set of numbers — gender equity indicators — for individual colleges and universities to illustrate women’s progress (or lack thereof) in pursuing academic careers,” the report states.

The four gender equity indicators cited in the AAUP report are employment status (full-time or part-time); tenure status (non-tenure track, tenure track and tenured); full professor status, and average salary of women as a percentage of men’s salaries broken down by academic rank (assistant, associate, full professor and all faculty).

The AAUP report found:

• Women faculty are less likely than men to hold full-time positions.

• Women in full-time positions are underrepresented in tenure-track positions, and have not obtained senior faculty rank at the same rates as men.

• At each full-time faculty rank, women on average earn less than men.

• The accumulated disadvantages of position are exemplified by the comparison of overall average salaries.

“The overall salary disadvantage for women is a combination of two primary factors: Women are more likely to have positions at institutions that pay lower salaries, and they are less likely to hold senior faculty rank,” the report states. Data also show “that women earn lower salaries on average even whey they hold the same rank as men.”

• Among all institutions nationally, women hold only 24 percent of full professor positions in the United States, despite constituting 39 percent of all full-time faculty.

• Women are obtaining doctoral degrees at record rates (53 percent of PhDs granted to U.S. citizens in 2004 were earned by women; 48 percent overall), but their representation in the ranks of tenured faculty remains below expectations, particularly at research universities. Currently, women represent only 25.8 percent of tenured faculty at doctoral institutions nationally.

“When women are hired, they are often paid lower salaries than men of equal rank, again shortchanging both women faculty and educational institutions by discouraging women graduate students from pursuing academic careers,” the report states.

Moreover, “When women are missing from faculty ranks, the research questions they would raise — whether or not those questions relate to matters of gender — are not asked and the corresponding research is not undertaken,” the report maintains.

Using the four indicators, Pitt’s figures, generally, are in line with the national averages for 221 doctoral institutions, which employ 47 percent of full-time faculty at all institutions nationally, according to the report.

Of Pitt’s 2,289 faculty (1,574 full time and 715 part time):

• Women make up 37.8 percent of full-time faculty and 51.6 percent of part-time faculty. That compares to 34.1 percent for full-time faculty at doctoral institutions nationally, and 46.5 percent of part-timers.

• Women at Pitt represent 56.8 percent of all full-time, non-tenure track faculty; 42.7 percent of those in the tenure track, and 24.1 percent of tenured faculty. Nationally, women represent 52.2 percent of non-tenure stream faculty; 40.9 percent of tenure track faculty, and 25.8 percent of tenured faculty.

• Women make up 21.2 percent of full professors here compared to 19.3 percent for doctoral institutions nationally.

For Pitt’s full professors, women on average earn 87.9 percent of what their male counterparts earn (compared to 90.9 percent for national doctoral institutions).

For associate professors, women earn 92.4 percent (92.7 nationally) of men’s wages; 88.2 percent compared to men for assistant professors (91.5 percent nationally), and 74.8 percent (78.1 percent nationally) compared to men’s salaries for all faculty.

The AAUP report also highlights a few comparisons of current data with data from 1972, the year Title IX was enacted explicitly to prohibit gender discrimination in education.

“That date marks a good starting point to examine the rapid expansion of women’s graduate enrollment in higher education in the United States,” the report states.

In 1972, women earned 41 percent of master’s degrees earned at U.S. universities, 6 percent of first professional degrees and 16 percent of doctorates.

In 2004, women earned more than half of all graduate degrees: 59 percent of master’s degrees, 49 percent of first professional degrees and 48 percent of doctorates.

“The predominance of women in the student populations of American colleges and universities is so great that the American Council on Education’s recent Gender Equity in Higher Education: 2006 focuses on the ‘gender gap’ in male achievement at the undergraduate level,” the AAUP report notes.

Despite the marked expansion of women’s enrollment in graduate programs, integration into the faculty ranks has occurred much less rapidly.

In 1972, women made up 27 percent of all faculty in higher education. By 2003, women comprised 43 percent of all faculty, 39 percent of full-time and 48 percent of part-time faculty. Women occupied about 9 percent of full professor positions at four-year colleges and universities in 1972, and 24 percent of all full professors in 2003.

The AAUP report’s stated goal is “to stimulate renewed discussion on campuses concerning the status of women faculty,” rather than offer an action plan for redressing inequity.

According to the report, among the questions to address are:

• After decades of high enrollments of women in most PhD fields, why are so few women found on the faculties of doctoral universities?

• Why is the percentage of full-time faculty women still only about half the percentage of men on these campuses?

The report makes two general recommendations:

• Salary-setting practices should be examined periodically to eliminate gender bias, whether it manifests itself at the department level or at the individual faculty member’s level.

• “More importantly, if these gender equity indicators are to improve in any meaningful way over the next decade, the rate of appointments of women into tenured or tenure-track positions must increase dramatically at research universities, to reflect women’s increased representation among doctoral degree recipients,” the report concludes.

The full report can be accessed online at

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 39 Issue 6

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