U of C sees gender gap in professor pay

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An August report released by Statistics Canada uncovered a significant income gap between female and male full-time university professors.

The information, based on data from Canadian universities with over 100 staff members, shows a discrepancy as high as $20,362 at the University of Toronto. The University of Calgary follows closely behind with a gap of $20,147.

One female professor at the U of C, who wished to remain unnamed, said female professors are less likely to negotiate their starting salary than their male counterparts.

"People generally don't talk about how much money they make," the professor named as one reason for the gap.

U of C deputy provost Sandy Murphee said the biggest reason for the pay discrepancy involves past hiring practices. "Back in the 1960s and '70s, the majority of professors hired were male," said Murphee. "Today, these senior professors are earning more money."

As the former dean of science, Murphee said he took steps to ensure that no bias existed within his own faculty. He also added it is the responsibility of each faculty to ensure females are equally paid and represented.

"Across faculties, significant differences exist. Medicine is the highest in general, with a significant difference between male and female," said Murphee. "On the other hand, former dean of engineering and new president Elizabeth Cannon was active in promoting engineering for women. No bias exists in engineering."

The Statistics Canada release also provided the public with salary scales for teachers at post-secondary institutions. The U of C's full-time professors top out at a maximum salary of $132,000 and associate professors earn up to $107,001. Assistant professors and sessional instructors were also not included in the report.

Murphee went on to distinguish between the instructor and professor salaries on campus as areas that might appear to favour one sex over the other.

"Females are often more interested in the instructor stream than men, thus, we tend to hire a third more women as instructors," said Murphee.

Instructors, on average, receive lower pay than those who focus on research. Murphee didn't know all the causes of the U of C's high pay gap.

"We have to look into that."

He noted that the science and arts faculties, who make up the bulk of U of C employees, are where the largest salary discrepancies are found. He looks forward to seeing how Cannon can lower the gender gap in all faculties in her new role as President.

In 2005, the U of C's Jean Wallace investigated the large difference in male and female professors' salaries. Wallace studied qpualification, historical salary increases and other factors that were not considered by Statistics Canada. When accounting for ranking and years of employment, the salary gap is reduced significantly.

According to the Statistics Canada report, other universities with high salary gaps include University of British Columbia ($16,559), Dalhousie University ($16,162), Royal Military College of Canada ($16,035), University of Western Ontario ($15,933) and University of Lethbridge ($15,675).