Study Evaluates Gender Pay Equity on Campus

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A report on gender equity among tenure-track faculty at UMass Amherst finds that men and women earn similar salaries — if they hold the same rank for an equivalent period of time within their college. This good news, the report states, places the university in a strategic positon to make further progress and address a continuing under-representation of women in senior, higher-paying positions and in colleges that typically pay the highest salaries.

The study, conducted by the university’s Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR), was commissioned by the Provost’s Office. The university and the Massachusetts Society of Professors previously had agreed on the need for such a report. It was conducted under of the direction of Laurel Smith-Doerr, professor of sociology and director of ISSR. The study evaluated data on faculty salaries from 2003 through 2015.

John McCarthy, acting provost and senior vice provost for academic affairs, said he is encouraged by the report’s finding that measures put in place years ago have produced equity between men and women at hiring and in the assistant and associate professor ranks. The report notes, “Over time gains have been made so that women now comprise over half of all assistant professors and nearly half of all associate professors. However, women still hold only 29 percent of all full professorships.”

The smaller number of female faculty at the rank of full professor—especially in the four colleges where salaries tend to be highest (Information and Computer Sciences, Engineering, Natural Sciences and Management) —results in higher pay for men than for women when all faculty are considered in aggregate.

McCarthy said, “The balance across ranks should improve as associate professors move up to full professors in the coming years, just as it has already changed among associate professors. To accelerate that process, I have urged departments to proactively review and identify associate professors who are ready for promotion.” McCarthy is also working with associate chancellor for equity and inclusion Anna Branch to support best practices in recruiting and retaining a more diverse faculty, building on the success of existing programs that have brought more women onto the faculty in the four high-salary colleges.

The study concluded, “UMass has the opportunity to be a leading institution in gender equity, which fits squarely in the university’s strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion. While starting from a position of strength, there is a need to continue to collect data and develop supportive policies.”

Smith-Doerr’s research collaborators were Henry Renski, associate professor of landscape architecture and regional planning; Laras Sekarasih, at the time of the study a postdoctoral student at ISSR and currently assistant professor in psychology at Universitas Indonesia; and Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, a doctoral student in sociology.