Do Female UVa Faculty Suffer from Pay Discrimination?

Martha Zeiger, chair of the department of surgery at the School of Medicine, is the highest-paid female employee at the University of Virginia. She earns only $692,000, making her only the third highest-paid employee at the university.

To crib a gag line from the Instapundit blog, why are liberal and leftist institutions such cesspools of sexism? The Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia’s student newspaper has found that female faculty at the university are earning almost $34,000 less this fiscal year than male faculty members on average. Only six of the top 20 earners at the university are women.

Here’s the part of the story I loved: In explaining the gap in male-female earnings, UVa spokesman Anthony De Bruyn sounded very much like a conservative explaining why gender pay gaps exist in society at large.

UVa strives for pay equity, De Bruyn said. Salaries depend upon a multitude of factors such as faculty classification, performance, honors and recognition in teaching, professorial rank, years in rank, market forces and administrative responsibilities like serving as a chair. “The University’s compensation philosophy supports UVA’s goal to attract, develop, and retain employees using market-based salary ranges and pay practices that reward performance and development.”

Do say… The pay for different types of employees reflects the demand for and supply of various attributes that have nothing to do with gender? What a remarkable concept. Whatever happened to “the patriarchy?”

The Cavalier Daily cites a 2014 salary study that adjusted for variables such as rank school, department and tenure. Based on 2013 salary data, male faculty members earned 2.7% more than female faculty members, a difference of $3,638. However, that study did not consider “qualitative” factors that might affect salaries in individual cases such as education and tenure. Education level among university faculty a “qualitative” factor? Who would have guessed? I wonder what the pay gap would have looked like if the study had adjusted for that trivial factor?

Field of specialization also affects compensation. As the article does not explain, engineering and medical school professors are paid well (a) because engineering professors have lucrative employment opportunities outside of academia, and (b) engineering professors are more likely to attract outside research dollars. Universities award the big money-makers with endowed professorships and other monetary enticements to recruit and retain them along with their research dollars. For whatever reason, engineering remains a male-dominated field. The ranks of senior medical research scientists, I’d wager, are predominantly male as well — although it seems noteworthy that Martha Zeiger, chair of the department of surgery, is the highest-paid faculty member (not administrator) as the university.

The wage gap “is not a U.Va. specific thing — it’s a U.S. society thing,” said Abby Palko, director of the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’ Center. “The assumptions that go with gender run really, really deep. … The best curated research shows that you can account for some of it by choice of profession and some of it by parental status, but not all of it. Some of it can be only explained by gender.”

Bacon’s bottom line: I’m inclined to think that pay discrimination in academia is almost non-existent and can be explained by factors other than gender bias. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Instapundit is right. Maybe the cloistered, left-leaning institution of academia is riddled with sexism. Even if I don’t really believe it, I can live with that interpretation.

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5 responses to “Do Female UVa Faculty Suffer from Pay Discrimination?

  1. You got to love this:

    “UVa spokesman Anthony De Bruyn sounded very much like a conservative explaining why gender pay gaps exist in society at large. UVa strives for pay equity, De Bruyn said.”

    Surprised Anthony De Bruyn is still employed after is his sad performance during Teresa Sullivan’s tenure. But apparently now everyone at UVA, except tenured white male professors, are deeply unhappy and abused at UVA. Abuse and oppression of students is pervasive, widespread, very deep, and chronic, if you want to work. For example, note into the threatened strike of students unhappy with their pay at UVA’s Newcomb Hall Student Center.

    Apparently UVA plays hardball with its abused students who only want to work for a living wage on the Grounds to afford UVA. The Cavalier Daily opens its article with this:

    “Student staff members at Newcomb Hall have begun to petition against the changes that have resulted from the current reorganization of Newcomb Hall. These changes — which have included hiring freezes and increased responsibilities without increased pay — are due to a budget deficit in the Office of the Dean of Students. Impacted student employees are scheduled to hold a rally at 12 p.m. at the Whispering Wall Friday to protest the changes.

    Workers canceled their strike after it came to the protestors’ attention that under Virginia Code § 40.1-55, if any public employee in Virginia were to perform a strike, it would result in that employees termination and a year of ineligibility for public employment.

    The student workers ruled in another follow up letter, “This is, unfortunately, a sacrifice that most if not all students cannot afford to make – nor should they have to. We therefore no longer intend to strike.”

    Thus the workers attempted to exploit a clause in the code that would allow them to perform a work action — a temporary action taken by employees in order for their demands to be met.

    However, if the University were to deny closure of Newcomb Service Desk on Thursday as a response to the workers’ protest, the work action would still be considered a strike which would result in termination the employment …”

    How do we hide all this from US News & World Report? This is what is keeping UVA up at night.

    See: https://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2019/04/newcomb-hall-student-workers-to-rally-friday-afternoon

  2. I think the classification issue is an important distinction and I’m a little surprised that the folks defending UVA did not anticipate it and present break-out data on that basis.

    Makes one wonder if perhaps they already thought of that but then even after that there were differences that still looked “gender”-based.

    Critics, also, have this responsibility – to NOT ignore the classification issue and instead just promote the general idea that gender-based discrimination is still in play.

    In other words – both sides “fudge” instead of unvarnished truth which seems to be the way we “work” these days on many issues unfortunately.

    but to end on a positive note – take a look at 10 important black women engineers:

    https://www.designnews.com/electronics-test/10-most-important-black-woman-engineers

    ?itok=1Nn6Zmph

  3. Dead right on the money Jim. The emphasis on these factors are interesting, given the response from the left.

    Its gotten so bad in the medical field that I know professionals (and myself) won’t read them any more. You can’t compare orthopedic surgery to endocrinology.

  4. While I agree with VN and Jim here to a point, I also disagree in substantial part, as for example this following statement by Jim:

    “I’m inclined to think that pay discrimination in academia is almost non-existent and can be explained by factors other than gender bias. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Instapundit is right. Maybe the cloistered, left-leaning institution of academia is riddled with sexism. Even if I don’t really believe it, I can live with that interpretation.”

    Jim’s statement does not answer why so many great teachers are paid so much less than professors who hardly teach at all, or teach badly when they do? Nor does it explain why there is the huge disparity in pay and success in Academia based on the political and ideological orientation of the student and his professors? Hence, why are so few conservatives safe to express any opinion or view at all? Or why are great adjunct and term limited teachers paid so little, while tenured professors who work hardly at all, whether on research or otherwise, are paid so much.

    Indeed, great swaths of Academia and its administrators are rewarded not based on merit or productive work at all, but instead on rank, irrelevant status, simple seniority, non-nonsensical privilege, or for doing nonsensical work to enforce and maintain the mandates of fraudulent cults and ideologies within the university and on its students and society generally. For example, how much of Yale remains a teaching university or it is a cult as explained in Heather Mac Donald’s opinion piece in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal?

  5. The great less-recognized discrimination is Age. As people get older, they are often forced out because they are more “expensive” and not as easily pushed around by ignorant managers. They’d rather have the less expensive, more pliable, minions…than deal with older and more mature workers. This is rampant is some industries like Tech where not only women but older people are not tolerated.

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