Enlightened professions perpetuate problems

As a member of the professoriate, I like to think that we are egalitarian and do our very best to correct the social inequities that are so prevalent outside of our relatively benevolent, enlightened institutions. Only…not. It looks like women get screwed over in academia, too.

The gender gap in faculty pay cannot be explained completely by the long careers of male faculty members, the relative productivity of faculty members, or where male and female faculty members tend to work — even if those and other factors are part of the picture, according to research being released this week at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association.

When all such factors are accounted for, women earn on average 6.9 percent less than do men in similar situations in higher education, says the paper, by Laura Meyers, a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington. The finding could be significant because many colleges have explained gender gaps by pointing out that the senior ranks of the professoriate are still dominated by people who were rising through the ranks in periods of overt sexism and so are lopsidedly male, or that men are more likely than women to teach in certain fields that pay especially well.

Maybe the disparity is because equality is only just now beginning to percolate upwards from the new faculty? Nope, they corrected for that. Is it because we have more women in the low-paying sociology departments than we do in the higher paying computer science departments? No, they corrected for that. Is it because women are less able to do the work and are too busy gossiping about babies and needlepoint to do the work? No, they corrected for that.

Darn. I guess the simple fact of the matter is that we’re paying women less than they deserve. From which the important, obvious lesson to be learned is that we ought to hire more women, because we’re getting equal work for cheap.

Perhaps I should mention that to our hiring committees.