Does QU have gender pay gap issue? National survey says yes, but provost says no

Chatwan Mongkol, Digital News Editor

While a national survey suggests a gender pay disparity among full-time faculty at Quinnipiac University, Provost Debra Liebowitz said the survey did not reflect any discrepancy because it lacks specific factors that determine salaries at Quinnipiac.

A survey from the American Association of University Professors showed wider gender pay gaps among full-time faculty at Quinnipiac, compared to some local institutions.

Of 128 full-time professors at Quinnipiac, men earned $142,900 on average while women made $23,700 less during the 2020-21 academic year. The gap increased 32% from the year prior, according to the AAUP. For all 379 full-time faculty members, female professors made $16,300 less than their male counterparts on average last academic year.

Infographic by (Sean Formantes)

However, the survey only detailed salaries by gender and academic titles, not by department and year of experience. Thus, Liebowitz said the AAUP data doesn’t completely reflect the gender pay disparity at Quinnipiac.

Even though Liebowitz said Quinnipiac has more women faculty than the national average, there are many more men in the fields that are the highest paid.

“Some of that is about the history of the gender balance of hiring many years ago that still plays out,” Liebowitz said. “But there’s (also) greater longevity, so people who have been here longer, by and large, get paid more.”

Lauren Sardi, professor of sociology and women’s and gender studies, said she was “pissed” about the disparity, noting that she believes Quinnipiac has a pay gap issue because she recalled it was a concern among school leaderships in the past.

Quinnipiac’s 2020-21 salary gender equity ratio was at 85.9%, where 100% represents equal pay. Fairfield University, Trinity College and the University of New Haven had a better ratio than Quinnipiac, while the University of Connecticut and Yale University saw a slightly wider gap.

Among 12 colleges and universities in Connecticut, the survey ranked Quinnipiac ninth for the salary gender equity ratio. Out of 933 universities participating in the survey, Quinnipiac ranked 716th.

“It wasn’t the worst gap of all the colleges/ universities, but I was really surprised at how far down the list QU actually was,” Sardi said.

Sardi said factors that contributed to the continuing gender pay disparity trend in higher education come from the hiring process. She said that men tend to be hired at a higher rank and that there are gender norms surrounding which genders are likely to go into particular graduate programs.

“Women are also (disproportionately) affected by the lack of paid parental leave, lack of access to affordable child care, as well as other considerations that do not affect men in the same way, structurally,” Sardi said.

At Quinnipiac, Liebowitz said faculty salaries are determined by five factors – market rates of the discipline, faculty rank, faculty position type, faculty credentials and longevity at the current positions.

Julie Dwyer, chair of Faculty Senate’s Compensation and Benefits Committee, said the committee has asked the administration about salary equity across a number of different characteristics but the committee isn’t investigating this issue further.

“Provost Liebowitz indicated to our committee that she and her office have taken a careful look at faculty salaries across the university and have addressed any glaring inequities,” Dwyer said. “She did not specify if the issues that were addressed were related to gaps related to gender.”

Illustration by (Peyton McKenzie)

Liebowitz declined to comment on the specific adjustments to individual people’s salaries but said when she looked into them, there weren’t a lot of cases that didn’t make sense given the five salary factors.

“The provost’s office analyzes gender salary equity every year and compares faculty salaries side-by-side by rank, position title, years of experience in the current position and faculty credentials,” Liebowitz said. “If an issue is identified, it is rectified.”

She also said she looks at salaries for other academic staff as well and that she continues to work with the Faculty Senate because there is room for improvement in gender equity.

“If people have any concern about any issue, please, they should always bring that forward because, from my perspective, it’s a baseline issue,” Liebowitz said. “I would always prioritize solving those things in the immediate term.”

The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women made 82 cents to every dollar a man made in 2020. However, the gaps for Black and Latina women were even wider – 62 cents and 55 cents to every man’s dollar, respectively.

Given the current pay trends, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research predicted that women will not see equal pay until 2059. Sardi disagreed, stating “I don’t think we will see true equal pay.”

“If anything, the pandemic has worsened the gender pay gap, as well as created greater structural inequality as a whole, so any progress we have been making has surely been kicked a few decades back, in a lot of ways,” Sardi said.

Supposing that there is a structure for open conversations about salaries, Sardi said there can be a positive change in some sectors. However, ideas of making the compensation information public “makes my skin crawl,” she said.

“We’ve been conditioned to think that talking about money is completely inappropriate,” Sardi said. “But the more this stays hidden, the less likely we are to do anything about it.

“I think that while women see the pay gap as an issue, many don’t consider it something that they personally experience. But men also need to understand that they are a huge part of the solution as well — that it isn’t just a ‘women’s issue’ — because men are directly negatively affected by gender inequality as well.”