Faculty and administration conduct joint gender equity study

UB study explores whether gender-related pay inequities exist for faculty

Faculty and administration are looking to find out once and for all whether UB’s female faculty members are paid less for equal work.

Provost Charles Zukoski and Faculty Senate Chair Philip Glick charged a gender equity salary committee in March 2017 to determine if gender bias exists for tenured and tenure-track professors. The committee, which comprises members from around the UB community, will announce their study methods to the entire Faculty Senate on Sept. 19, and will hold town hall meetings on North and South Campus to allow community input. They will present their data by the end of the semester, according to Glick.

UB has conducted salary analyses in years past, but this study is unique because of the joint support between administration and faculty, said committee chair Peter Elkin. When administrators conducted a salary study, faculty charged that it was not rigorous enough. When faculty conducted their own, it was criticized because it lacked access to necessary data, Elkin explained.

“Here, we were charged by both the faculty senate and the provost to do it together. That’s not common in literature,” Elkin said. “It’s a joint effort, which I think is one extremely important advantage we have over other literature. I think other universities will want to replicate what we are doing here.”

The study committee includes: Sharon Nolan-Weiss, director of the Office of Equity; Diversity and Inclusion and Title IX and ADA Coordinator, Peter Elkin; professor of internal medicine and chair; Craig Abbey, Associate Vice President and director of institutional analysis and Glenna Bett, chair of the Faculty Senate Committee on Equity and Inclusion.

Once the committee receives all input from the UB town hall and Faculty Senate meetings, they will analyze data from a single pay period from the 2016-17 academic year.

The study looks primarily at gender, but will also consider race and ethnicity as its secondary aim, according to the study’s methodology breakdown. It excludes staff, non-tenure track faculty members and clinical faculty in the medical school whose primary source of income is not their state salary. The study will also examine librarians separately, due to their unique method of promotion.

If the committee finds evidence of gender inequities, Nolan-Weiss said the university will have to rectify the inequity, which may result in salary adjustments.

“If the study does not find statistical evidence of inequity, our work is not done. We need to continue to run the study on a regular basis to ensure that salaries remain equitable,” Nolan-Weiss said. “Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that this is an overall picture of UB. Individual inequities within departments may exist even if there is no statistically significant inequity institution-wide.”

Nolan-Weiss said any faculty or staff member who thinks they have been discriminated against should request an individual salary review by contacting the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

The administration’s willingness to conduct the joint study reflects well on UB, Elkin said.

This institutional support poses a difficult question: why is unequal pay a problem that needs to be addressed when there is such institutional support for gender equity? According to Glick, this study can only begin that discussion.

“We are not sociologists. We are not trying to figure out why [inequity] happens,” Glick said. “What we’re trying to do is rectify if it exists. There are probably dozens of reasons for why things are the way they are. It’s a very patriarchal society, and hopefully the results of this will begin the discussion.”

The committee members will announce the dates for their upcoming town hall meetings for members of the UB community to offer input and criticism.

Sarah Crowley is the senior news editor and can be reached at sarah.crowley@ubspectrum.com.