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Science Careers Blog

February 4, 2013

University of British Columbia Boosts Pay of Faculty Women

"Striking a blow against gender inequity in professors' pay," the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver has announced that it will raise the salary of each of the 880 tenured or tenure-track women on its faculty by 2 percent, reports the Globe and Mail.  Studies by the university found that the $14,000 average difference between average male and female faculty salaries arose partially from the higher percentage of men among full professors and partially because of male predominance in better-paid schools, such as business. 

But part of the difference did not appear to arise from factors the university considered "legitimate," and thus appeared to reflect gender bias, according to Inside Higher Ed

Rather than take the time to analyze which and by how much particular women may be underpaid relative to comparable men, the university decided on an across-the-board approach that equalizes average pay instead of adjusting every individual case of inequity.

The pay hike--strikingly unusual in an era when many public universities, at least in the United States, are under severe budget strain--is retroactive to July 2010 and will set the university back $2 million in the first year.  The university reportedly acted fast at least in part to forestall the threat of legal action arising from the study results.  But it also shows that UBC takes pay equity "quite seriously as part of their strategic plan," says UBC math professor Rachel Kuske, who advises the provost on gender issues, as quoted by the Globe and Mail.

But, she adds, "You can do this one-time thing but if you don't have all the processes that affect advancement and future salary increases, then it's not going to really fix the problem in the long term."

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