Report reveals gender differences in faculties

A report released by Statistics Canada on Aug. 10, summarizing the full-time faculty salaries for universities across the country in 2008-2009, has revealed a stark difference between the pay of male and female professors across the board.

Every institution listed in the document, regardless of how its wages compare to other schools, award more dollars to full-time men – a category incorporating deans, full professors, associate professors and assistant professors – than to full-time women.

Laurier, for instance, pays male full-time faculty $111, 453 on average while giving females $99,688 on average. Other institutions across Canada display a more drastic contrast; The University of Toronto awards men $139,612 while paying women $119,250.

According to VP:Academic and Finance Jim Butler, the difference across the country cannot be attributed to only one factor. However, he mentioned that it is important to consider the contrast in each faculty separately.

“You have to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples,” Butler told The Cord. He noted that more men are generally found in the sciences, whereas more women tend to work in the arts and social sciences.

At Laurier, this distribution seems to be accurate in some departments. Within the school’s Chemistry department, for instance, males hold 16 out of 19 full-time positions. In contrast, males occupy eight out of 22 full-time positions in the English department.

This is significant, he explained, because positions in the sciences tend to pay more because faculty “can just as easily go work in the private sector” with the degrees they have earned so university salaries must be competitive with positions such as doctors or chemical engineers.

Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA) president, and professor of geography, Judy Bates, also attributed the gender difference to the skewing of males and females in specific departments.

“I think I’m correct in saying in physics and chemistry and areas like that there are more men and that men are earning a lot, so that would raise the median for men across the board, whereas there are more women in arts … where the salaries tend to be lower,” said Bates.

She also noted the familial responsibilities women face as a factor contributing to their lower salaries.

“There are still problems of women trying to combine their academic and familial responsibilities,” said Bates.

“Women are often later coming into the profession and have more difficulties getting tenure because of their mothering duties.”

Bates explained that this is a key problem because professors who have been in the profession longer or achieve full-time status sooner will generally make more money due to pay increases over their career.

Because of this, women facing delays such as pregnancy and child rearing have more difficulty attaining the same salaries as men.

Women Studies professor Helen Ramirez also noted that women face familial commitments that can make it more difficult for them to progress through the ranks.

When a part-time faculty member is granted a tenure-track position, for example, they are given two years to produce work that demonstrates that they should be granted tenure.

“It’s not a job where you just come in and sit from one until five or eight until four,” Ramirez explained, stating that these professors are expected to produce research as well as serve on committees.

We don’t associate women with being
knowledge bearers or with power. In
fact, we don’t like that equation.”
—Helen Ramirez, Laurier women’s
studies professor

“It takes over your life and because the structure of the family has not changed, it’s still constituted in a way that we expect women to do the majority of the work,” she added.

As well, Ramirez stated that faculty members who bring in research grants and money for the university are more likely to progress through the ranks. Because the studies that receive funding are mainly in the sciences – where women are scarce – they are less likely to receive those grants.

On top of the institutional demands hampering the efforts of female faculty members, Ramirez explained that ideological biases pervade at each level in the university and society, making it difficult for women to be considered legitimate.

“We don’t associate women with being knowledge bearers or with power. In fact, we don’t like that equation,” said Ramirez.

“What girds the whole thing is the idea that women are not smart enough and we want to perceive smartness as a masculine trait.”

As a result, she explained that female faculty members are held under “huge surveillance” because there is doubt as to their competency as leaders and educators.

While Ramirez speaks to the biases and barriers faced by women in the academic world, she provided a reminder that the results of Statistics Canada’s study would become even more complicated when race comes into the picture, making it even more difficult for individuals to attain tenure positions along with higher wages.