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Jan 31 2013

Good news for UBC professors

I got notification about this story a couple of days ago:

All University of British Columbia all full-time, female-identified tenure and tenure-track professors are getting a raise to counteract gendered pay inequity.

The two per cent salary increase, retroactive to July 1, 2010, is part of a three-year process between the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the UBC Faculty Association (UBCFA) to solve pay inequity among full-time tenure-track faculty. The study did not look at pay inequity among UBC academic or administrative support staff.

Inspired by pay equity reports in 2007 and 2009 from UBC’s Equity Office, the University and UBCFA created two separate working groups: the DATA Working Group for collecting data on pay equity and the SMART Working Group to devise solutions.

According to a joint message from UBCFA and UBC’s two provosts sent to faculty today, the DATA Working Group’s “analyses indicated that after accounting for the factors of under representation of females at the full professor level, experience, and differences in the gender balance across departments, a pay differential of 2% remained, that could only be explained by gender. This unexplained female pay disadvantage is considered a systemic discrimination issue.”

This is a ‘win’ story for not only female-identified faculty at UBC, but for the university at large. They identified an issue (eventually), took it seriously enough to collect and analyze the data, and then committed to make restitution for an arbitrarily unfair system. What is most interesting is that, while there was a strong financial and psychological incentive for them to attempt to explain away this difference as “assertiveness” or “different time commitments” or any of the other ‘just-so stories’ that are used to justify administrative inaction, they were sensible and aware enough to treat it as an issue that warranted a system-wide response.

I say that this is good news for the university because they will likely gain a great deal of (justified) goodwill for taking the issue of gender equality seriously. UBC is a large, wealthy, and old institution. Groups like that don’t often make changes like this, even in the face of data like this. It will be interesting to see if Canada’s other venerable institutions follow suit (or, indeed, if UBC is actually the last to do this – it’s certainly possible).

So thumbs up for that!

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7 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    This is good news, and I am impressed that they included “female-identified” and not just cis women.

  2. 2
    Crommunist

    I’m not sure if it’s the university or the newspaper who made that specification, but yeah I noticed that too.

  3. 3
    Holms

    I don’t really understand why it is so complex. If a two people have the same job with the same hours and duties, the pay is the same. No working groups necessary; it’s just fucking obvious.

  4. 4
    Crommunist

    If I’ve been working a job 5 years longer than another person who does the same job, you’re saying that doesn’t matter?

  5. 5
    teragram42

    As a data nerd and the mother of a female UBC student, this news makes me happy. It also makes me happy because they did the right thing.

  6. 6
    Holms

    No, but while I didn’t think of that at the time, ‘same pay’ by extension can also include ‘same pay scaling’.

    This is a positive outcome, but the fact that it took such a report to arrive at a dead obvious conclusion baffles me.

  7. 7
    Crommunist

    There are always an infinite number of ‘alternative explanations’ to excuse inactivity when it comes to stuff like this. Pay scaling is a good solution to the issue, and I’m sure they have some kind of pay scaling going on. I know for sure that, for example, where I work the positions are strictly scaled, but raises are not (they’re merit-based). I can see that becoming a sexism issue over time.

    And yeah, you’re right that this should be ‘dead obvious’, but it tends not to be, unfortunately.

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