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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA to fix disparity between women and tenure

    For many faculty members at the UA, securing tenure means securing a job and a consistent salary for the duration of their time here.

    But tenure has long been a complicated process often filled with discrepancies, particularly in the areas of salary differences between male and female tenured professors.

    “”Tenure is a way of saying we value you, we are confident you are going to continue to be a valued professor, and we want to keep you here,”” said Juan Garcia, vice provost for academic affairs.

    There were a total of 1,216 professors with tenure at the UA in 2006, 312 of whom were female, according to Office of Institutional Research and Evaluation.

    Although UA administrators have cited a commitment to improve tenure for women, tenured female faculty rates have hovered at 11 percent for the past 10 years, and departments are now starting to take action to rectify the disparity.

    Difficulty retaining females

    One problem in getting female faculty tenured is that the UA has a difficult time retaining female faculty, Garcia said.

    “”We know that women come with different levels of responsibility,”” Garcia said. “”With their roles in maintaining the household and family, etcetera, their ability to devote as much time to their roles as faculty at the UA may be compromised.””

    Because of these many levels of responsibility, women often leave their academic positions at the university. Some leave because they feel they will not be successful in achieving tenure, Garcia said, or they stay at the UA and do not fulfill the requirements for tenure.

    “”We have a 90 to 92 percent success rate for obtaining tenure; the challenge is getting tenure-eligible professors to stay long enough to be considered for tenure and promotion,”” Garcia said.

    But tenured male professors net a salary that is about 10 percent higher than their female colleagues, according to the NCES-IPEDS Human Resources Survey. While the average tenured male salary is $109,813, tenured females earned $100,637 on average.

    A large component of the pay difference comes from securing an initial contract.

    “”Women often take a lower salary when they are initially hired,”” said President Robert Shelton. “”That difference persists throughout their career. So, we need to make sure that when they are hired we give them just as strong a package.””

    Although the 10 percent difference in pay is universitywide, salaries also vary between colleges.

    In the fiscal year 2000-2001, the College of Medicine established the Generating Respect for All in a Climate of Academic Excellence (GRACE) project to review discrepancies between the pay of male and female professors.

    The study found female faculty in the College of Medicine earned an average of 11 percent less than their male counterparts.

    In the seven years since the report, the College of Medicine has taken steps to reduce the inequities and is now at close to a 6 percent difference in the rate of pay between male and female professors, said Keith Joiner, dean of the College of Medicine, in an e-mail.

    But while the College of Medicine is moving in the right direction, a large factor of the difference in pay throughout the university involves negotiation, Garcia said.

    Lack of negotiation

    Often, men will negotiate a higher salary when offered a position, while females accept the initial offer, both in terms of salary and start-up funds, Garcia said.

    “”There is an interesting book called ‘Women Don’t Ask’ with suggestions that women don’t negotiate as effectively as men,”” said Kathryn Reed, chair of the GRACE steering committee and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the College of Medicine, in an e-mail. “”If you actually read the book, you find that there is more to it than this, including that both men and women think that women deserve less, either consciously or unconsciously, and as such, aggressive negotiation is considered inappropriate.””

    But Garcia said women shouldn’t have to negotiate – they should be offered the same salaries and resources as males.

    “”We need to remove much of the existing unfairness and bias, conscious or otherwise, from the negotiation process,”” he said.

    Judy Temple, an associate professor of women’s studies who is tenured, said although there are distinct differences between the pay of female and male faculty, the actual tenure process was not more difficult as a female.

    But the pay gap doesn’t apply just to tenured professors; it’s a universitywide problem, Temple said.

    Correcting the problem

    UA administrators admit there is a problem, and they are taking steps to try to correct imbalances immediately.

    “”We have an ADVANCE grant that is looking at this issue (of pay differences between genders),”” Garcia said. “”We are asking questions such as how can we eliminate unconscious bias that creeps into the search process, the negotiation phase, and how we review and promote women at all levels of the university.””

    Similarly, the university encourages different colleges to submit annual reports of equity issues and send findings and suggestions to the administration to help correct skewed rates of pay, Garcia said.

    “”When we receive additional money, we ask the department to decide who would benefit from an equity raise,”” Garcia said. “”Also, when I look at a contract for two people who are in the same field with the same degree but see pay differences of $5,000, I go to the dean or department head to ascertain the reason for the difference. Our goal is to prevent inequities from occurring at the outset.””

    “”Women are often professors in fields that have lower salaries than others,”” Shelton said. “”A lot has to do with disciplines that are chosen. We sometimes don’t give women the same options for administrative opportunities, and that’s something we always need to watch.””

    Similarly, the university has become more vigilant to make sure that discrepancies don’t start at the beginning of a professor’s career and is focused on recruiting diverse faculty from outside of the university, Shelton said.

    “”We have to make sure that we go out and attract every female or underrepresented person that we can,”” Shelton said. “”If you look at our tenure rate in past years, women have been getting tenure at a higher rate, but it’s a complex and interesting topic.””

    Using the College of Medicine as an example, changes were made based on the recommendations of the GRACE project, which suggested consistent monitoring and reporting on the issue, diversification of important committees and cultivation of leadership, as well as problem-solving that involves diverse constituents, mentoring and accountability, Reed said.

    “”I think a lot of the problems are due to unconscious expectations and subtle discrimination,”” Reed said. “”The ADVANCE grant is also looking at how these issues can be addressed such that no one is prevented from making their full contributions on the basis of discrimination.””

    The largest contributing factor in terms of stabilizing the rates of pay for tenured female and male faculty is time. While equity raises and larger initial salaries are beginning to become available to women now, more thorough recruitment techniques and long-term changes in the perception of female faculty will help to further equalize rates of pay, as well as reaching out to girls at a young age in an effort to deconstruct gender roles, Garcia said.

    “”Colleges that are historically male-dominated are beginning to understand inequity,”” Garcia said. “”We did a lot of things at this university to close doors to women years ago and now we bear the responsibility to make it right, but it will take time.””

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