The Daily Illini

UI not exempt from gender inequality

By Claire Hettinger, News Editor

Women make 77 cents on the dollar on average in the U.S. This affects those working in higher education as well. The University is not an exception to pay disparity.

Equally qualified female faculty and staff members consistently make less than their male counterparts.

For women at the University, however, there are some positive things as well, said Amy Santos, chair of the Gender Equity Council and interim head of the Department of Special Education.

The committee released a report titled “Women at Illinois” and she said the data shows “some good things and some not good things.”

According the report, it is meant to be “an honest and careful analysis of the opportunities and the challenges of women on our campus.”

One of the report’s findings was that 75 percent of professors are male and 25 percent are female. At the assistant professor level, the numbers are 55 percent male and 43 percent female. The associate professor numbers are 59 percent male and 41 percent female.

Santos said that this disparity comes with another issue as well; the positions that are more likely to be held by men come with higher pay.

The non-tenure track faculty are affected by the pay disparity as well, despite the fact that the classification is made up of about 50 percent females, said Dorothee Schneider, history lecturer and Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition Local 6546 communications chair.

Schneider said there are disparities between men and women, specifically when looking at male political science faculty and women who teach languages.

But it can be hard to prove the irregularity of pay, she said. One problem  is that there are no records of employee evaluations or other markings that people could use to find and track the equality of pay.

“If there is no record of evaluation, then we cannot hold the units to those standards because no standards have been established, so creating that baseline is important to us,” she said.

When the female and male members of the union are compared, there is a significantly lower compensation for females, Schneider said.

“The justification for that is, inevitably, that women tend to congregate in lower paid fields, languages, tnglish, education and the arts, whereas men tend to be in higher paying fields: Applied sciences, accounting, political science,” she said.

Others make the argument that it is because women are in these fields that they are underpaid.

Santos said there is a noticeable difference in salaries across disciplines as well, but she said she can’t say exactly what is causing it.

“Why should an Arabic instructor be lower paid than a political science instructor when the Arabic instructor is female and the political science instructor is male and obviously the need for Arabic teachers is very high,” Schneider said.

Santos said there are many reasons that women are in positions that make less money, but that it is important to study people who are stuck in the associate professor position and other lower positions. She said one result could be  finding why more women are stuck and then finding out what is causing this stagnation at the University.

“The University could begin to look at that and address that in a more systematic way,” she said.

The University also promotes professional development to try to combat some of the gender disparities between professor, associate professor and assistant professor.

But ultimately, Santos said, promotion and tenure comes at the department level and so the change needs to start there.

“We are helping the campus to think about and find opportunities to have a climate that would be supportive of faculty of all genders,” Santos said.

Part of the reason the office of the chancellor and the office of the provost wanted to gather this information is for to help the University reflect on the current situation and the needs of all gender representation in the faculty and staff.

“(Women) have to make hard choices about what is important for them as a family but also trying to do well in their careers,” Santos said. “That shouldn’t be a choice. That should be something they can do in their jobs as part of being a faculty member here at Illinois.”

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  • Illinois Alum

    With respect, this article is a complete mess.

    “Women make 77 cents on the dollar on average in the U.S.” – what does this even mean? I think you meant to say that, on average, women make 77% of what men make. As it’s written, your statement is meaningless.

    “Equally qualified female faculty and staff members consistently make less than their male counterparts.” – How can you make such a baseless claim without any logic or facts to back it up? The rest of your article actually contradicts this statement. It’s clearly stated that there are no records of evaluation or any other useful metrics of comparison, so there is no attempt to compare “equally qualified” employees. It’s literally just raw data of salaries, and it’s expressly stated that women tend to be in lower paid fields.

    Instead of perpetuating false narratives, let’s focus on understanding the real pay gap issues and how to remedy them. It’s not that women on average make less than men, it’s that some careers are higher paid than others, and women tend to go into those lower-paying careers. Let’s talk about why this is the case. Are women discouraged from entering higher-paying fields? Can we increase incentives for them to enter higher paying careers? And when they do enter higher paying fields and are as equally qualified as their male counterparts, why does a small wage gap (not 77%) still exist? Are they passed over for promotions because of sexism? Are they not as pro-active at negotiating higher salaries? Are they punished for taking time off from work to have children?

    But instead of promoting dialogue on solving the real issues, you write another muddled article. And worse, you bend over backwards to avoid the real issues. “Santos said that this disparity comes with another issue as well; the positions that are more likely to be held by men come with higher pay.” Really? It’s almost painful to see you force phrasing like that to fit your narrative. It should be: “positions that come with higher pay tend to be filled by men.”

    • Steve Trevor

      Bravo! VERY well said! I’m sure that whomever concocted the “77%” was comparing the female who majored in Gender Studies & is now working in at Sprint selling cell phones and the male who majored in Mechanical Engineering and is now working in the consulting world designing HVAC systems.