Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Women profs still earn less at DU and other colleges and universities

Women continue to trail men in pay and rank at U.S. universities, including the University of Denver, according to a recently released study by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

The report shows that nationally, women across the faculty ranks make, on average, 80.7 percent of what men make and represent just 24.4 percent of full professors employed at the 1,445 institutions responding to the survey.

There is even more room for improvement at doctoral universities, where women across all levels earn 78.1 percent of the average male salary and make up just 19.3 percent of full professors. University of Denver women fare slightly better, according to the study, with average salaries at 81.9 percent of those earned by men and representation at the full-professor level of 20.1 percent.

DU scores higher in the study’s other indicators, besting the average percentage for all universities on the ratio of women employed, on tenure-track and tenured. At the full-professor level, DU pays women closer to parity than most universities studied.

“DU has relatively good ratios, but there should be no difference between men and women on these indicators,” says DU Provost Gregg Kvistad. “We have more work to do.”

AAUP found more work to do across academia. Although there are now more women PhDs than ever before, the study shows women still being steered into non-tenure-track positions, hired as part-time or contract employees, and languishing on tenure track at greater rates than their male counterparts. 

Family and childrearing considerations can’t explain the disparity, the report says, and the “it just takes time” argument is wearing thin. Universities must do more, the AAUP concludes, to examine their hiring and pay policies in regard to gender equity.

DU’s Nancy Reichman, chair of sociology and the Women’s Faculty Association, says the AAUP numbers speak for themselves. Gender preferences that permeate society, she says, also influence ongoing inequities in academic compensation and rank.

“There’s been time,” says Reichman. “I don’t think we should wait.”

DU already follows many of the recommendations included in the AAUP report, Kvistad says, including gender-neutral job descriptions, gender-balanced search committees and regular examination of University compensation policies.

Appreciation for diversity of gender, race, religion and ideology is becoming increasingly ingrained in DU’s culture, he says.

To reach the University’s goal of full parity for women, Kvistad says, DU must communicate and facilitate the expectation that all faculty aspire to become full professors. And as new faculty opportunities arise, he says, the University must work to ensure a large and diverse applicant pool.

“We need to cast our hiring net as wide as possible,” Kvistad says.

This article originally appeared in The Source, January 2007.

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