Women of color earn less than everybody else in higher education workforce

Eilish O'Sullivan

Women of color earn 67 cents on the dollar compared to white men in higher education, according to a new study. 

The study, published in May, comes from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. The study analyzed data about women who identify as either black/African-American or Hispanic/Latino in all higher education positions as compared to men of color, white women and white men. 

In all higher education positions, women of color earned less than white women, white men and men of color, according to the study. 

Women of color are at the intersection of gender and race discrimination, so it’s not surprising that they earn 67 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, said Del Watson, director of faculty affairs and liaison for the University Faculty Gender Equity Council. 

“There are a number of equity issues that contribute to this gap,” Watson said.“The underrepresentation of women of color (and) women in general, in higher-paying disciplines such as those in the STEM fields, contribute to the overall pay gap.”

Watson said women are often the primary caregivers in families, which may slow their career advancement and could lead to smaller salaries. 

“Women are also subjected to implicit biases which devalue their research and academic worth at hiring and do not reward their contributions to the University community once hired,” Watson said. 

Jasper McChesney, a data visualization researcher at CUPA-HR who wrote the research brief, said the findings were a confirmation of trends he saw, which included underrepresentation and underpay for women and minorities.

“You have to look at data and really see what the numbers are, compared to what you think an equitable situation should be,” McChesney said in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

In February, data produced by UT and The Texas Tribune showed that men and white faculty are paid more, and receive more endowments, promotions and more timely promotions. In July 2017, the average salary for male employees at UT was $62,400, and the average female salary was $52,000, according to the Tribune’s Government Salaries Explorer database.

According to the CUPA-HR study, in higher education fields, women of color are overrepresented in lower-paid positions and underrepresented elsewhere.

The University Faculty Gender Equity Council said they are working to combat such discrepancies. The council advises the provost on matters related to gender issues at UT and makes recommendations for improving the equitable and inclusive environment for faculty, Watson said.

“(UT) has been proactive in addressing these equity issues and has seen some positive results,” Watson said.

Watson said in an analysis of gender pay equity by the council, they found that salaries in 2017–2018 for UT female faculty were slightly higher than salaries for men when controlled for discipline, experience and years in rank. 

The council will also be performing an analysis of the pay gap for faculty women of color this upcoming fall.