Here’s a snapshot of the gender pay gap in higher ed

Women, beginning at the undergraduate level and in many disciplines, leave academia at higher rates
By: | November 2, 2020
Female faculty are held to higher standards in the peer review process, new research finds. (GettyImages/Eric Raptosh Photography)Female faculty are held to higher standards in the peer review process, new research finds. (GettyImages/Eric Raptosh Photography)

The wage gap between male and female faculty at just one large state university hovered around 11% in 2016, reflecting persistent disparities across higher ed, new research has found.

That gap translated into an annual loss of just under $18,000 for female faculty, according to the report, “Gender Gaps in Academia: Evidence from The Ohio State University,” published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

Across academia, female faculty are also held to higher standards in the peer review process while policies that extend the probationary period for childbirth reduce the chances that women will eceive tenure, the report said.

And so‐called “leaky pipelines” mean women, beginning even at the undergraduate level and in many disciplines, leave academia at higher rates.


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“Our paper examines gender wage inequality using comprehensive data from a large public university, across fields and over a 10-year period,” says co-author Joyce Chen, an associate professor at The Ohio State University. ‘We also take a closer look at data anomalies common in academia—such as multiple appointments, non-academic appointments, and less than full-time appointments.”

One reason for the salary gap appears to be the male professors, in certain fields, are promoted at higher rates.

Experiments cited in the report found that students tend to give male professors higher ratings in course evaluations. Other studies have shown that females’ research manuscripts often face a more stringent review process.

Also, the time female assistant professors spend caring for children during tenure-track years can leave them with less competitive portfolios.

Professional organizations in recent years have launched mentoring programs and organized workshops for underrepresented faculty.

In some areas of higher ed, efforts have also been made to increase the representation of women in male-dominated fields and among the scientific committees that evaluate tenure.

The report cites research that shows women are more likely to graduate on time from departments with a greater share of female student peers.


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