I've been working for two years now to improve the family/maternity leave policy at the University at Albany. During this time, I have grown keenly interested in gender disparities in higher education.
Inside Higher Ed is reporting this morning a new study that looks at the salary gap between male and female academics. In raw numbers, female professors on average earn 21.8% less than their male counterparts. The researcher, Paul D. Umbach, then identified several independent variables, including number of years in the discipline, number and types of publications, whether the faculty has external grants, and rank.
Factoring in all these variables reduces the gap to 6.8%. That's still a sizable number in my mind, although not nearly as grim as a full 20%.
Umbach isn't sure that the gap indicates a genuine bias towards giving men higher salaries or if the bias is more discipline based - some disciplines are populated with more female faculty (schools of social welfare/social work, schools of education) and others with more male faculty (engineering, computer science, biology, chemistry).
I'm not sure that there's a "preferrence" in salary allocation to male faculty either, but I am sure there are system wide biases. There are clear salary discrepencies between, for example the hard sciences and the humanities, with hard science faculty making more than arts faculty, and hard science faculty bringing in more external funding.
To me, this just indicates that our society, for better or worse, places more value on "hard" sciences than on humanities. And, with more women attracted to the humanities than the sciences, and women's work less valued than men's, we get further reinforcement of the justness of the salary discrepancies.
Speaking of women's work less valued than men's, I heard an interview on WBUR Boston's "On Point" with Harvey Mansfield, who has written a new book, Manliness.
He defines "manliness" as "confidence in a situation of risk," and argues that this is a quality that men have and that women lack (tell that to Rosa Parks, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Madeline Albright, Ida Tarbell, Margaret Thatcher, and any number of women who have stood strong in the face of adversity and danger).
He argues that we need more "take charge" guys; that our gender-equal society has constructed women and men as interchangeable. This is bad for our society, since women are inherently NOT interchangeable with men.
Women are inferior to men. Yes. That's what he said in the interview.
And certain jobs women do are sheer drudgery for men, like housework, and should be done with pride by women, but should not be done by men, since it's beneath men to do.
I would not want to be Mrs. Mansfield.