Senate Source

November 2011


New Study Finds Pay Equity Problems for UC Women Faculty


Senate divisions are currently reviewing a Salary Equity Study written by a former chair of the University Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity (UCAAD), that provides statistical evidence that female faculty are paid less than their male colleagues at UC with similar years of experience, and suggests that the University is out of compliance with pay equity provisions in Title IX.


Senate Chair Anderson says the study raises troubling issues and it is important that the Senate and the University take it seriously.


“If the Senate review concludes that the findings are valid, we need to understand how the disparities are occurring and devise methods to eliminate them,” he says. “Some have suggested that women are less willing to seek outside offers simply as a means of raising salary, or because they are less mobile due to family issues. If this is true, it would be an additional indication that UC should return to greater reliance on the peer review system and faculty salary scales. For many years, the Senate has urged that we take action to restore a reasonable relationship between the published salary scales and competitive salaries.”


In 2004, Congress required federal agencies to monitor compliance with Title IX after a GAO report found that no agencies had done so since 1995, and most, including the NSF, had never done so. In response, in 2008 then-Vice Provost Nick Jewell initiated a study to determine whether the University’s pay practices comply with the law, as failure to comply could put all federal funding for UC at risk. The study employs a methodology recommended by the AAUP and used nationwide, including at UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. It computes an equation for a baseline group of faculty, white males, which predicts their pay based on three variables: education, professional experience and time at UC. Such an equation was computed for all units headed by deans (72 units total), but excluded the Health Sciences. The fit between the predicted and actual pay of the white men varied across units but was statistically significant in 80% of units, including those in the fields of engineering, physical sciences, life sciences, arts and humanities, and social sciences. The 20% of units in which the white men’s predicted pay was not significantly related to their actual pay were business, law, education and information sciences, and eight units that are each unique to one campus.


The equation was then used to predict pay for other groups, such as women and minority men. Across the system, no statistically significant pattern of pay differences was observed for minority men; observed patterns of difference would occur by chance 19 in 100 times. However, the pattern of pay differences for women was statistically significant; the probability that it would have occurred by chance was 26 in one million. In 2009-10 alone, the 1,416 women in the social sciences (excluding economics, where faculty are on a different pay scale), arts and humanities, and life sciences and agriculture were underpaid relative to white men with the same education, experience and time at UC by $7.82 M (216 life sciences women lost $2 M; 618 arts and humanities women lost $2.42 M, and the 582 social sciences women lost $3.3M). Pay differences are not necessarily the result of past decisions. Some recently established units show substantial negative averages for both women and minority men. Moreover, pay equity for women does not necessarily improve when they are almost as numerous, or more numerous than white men, as in the Humanities. Data from UCI, which has used this method to perform salary equity studies for the past thirteen years, show both that equity patterns can change rapidly despite low turnover in academic personnel, and that stable patterns of inequity can persist despite high rates of turnover.


Pay equity was also evaluated within units by adding sex as a pay prediction factor for comparisons among women and white men and women and all men, and by including ethnicity as a factor among white and minority men. Knowing who was and was not white significantly improved pay prediction accuracy among men within eight units. Knowing who was and was not female significantly improved pay prediction accuracy within twelve units.


The author of the study, Professor Emerita Pauline Yahr, notes, “Many campuses focus their diversity efforts on increasing the number of women faculty, without taking into consideration pay of current women faculty.” Margaret Conkey, the current UCAAD Chair, stated that this issue is a central one on the UCAAD agenda for the year and welcomes suggestions for how to better understand the local situations and what steps are needed to rectify these inequities. UCAAD awaits comments from the individual campus committees that are now reviewing the study and hopes that the committees are taking this study as seriously as the results merit.


The full study, including its data tables, is available on the Senate’s web site at