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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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FRESHFARM workers ratify union agreement
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 15, 2024

Staff Editorial: GW must address disparities in faculty pay, promotions

Officials and the Board of Trustees can’t fix gender discrimination writ large, but they can address sexism at GW.

Editor’s note: For the sake of analyzing GW-provided data, the language used in this article largely adheres to the gender binary. Though gender is a spectrum, GW data does not include salary summaries for nonbinary or transgender employees, forcing analysis to adhere to the uncomprehensive binary.

GW’s female faculty members have endured their fair share of interruptions during lectures, inexcusable and unprompted comments on their appearance and even harsher criticism compared to their male colleagues. But gender-based discrimination goes beyond a sexist comment here or there.

The University employs, promotes and pays female faculty at lower rates than male professors, per an examination of faculty by gender and their position. Officials and the Board of Trustees can’t fix American systemic gender discrimination by their lonesome, but they can address sexism at GW.

Pay disparity between male and female faculty members is hardly a new topic of conversation in the realm of academia, but it’s all too frequently swept under the rug. In 2019 at GW, full female professors made 96 cents to every dollar that their male counterparts made. Female associate professors made 97 cents to the dollar, and assistant professors made 90 cents to every dollar, even though there were more female assistant professors on faculty.

Yet even where wage gaps shrunk between full female and associate professors and their male colleagues, a different type of inequality is at play: the number of full, senior and tenured male professors was still more than double the number of full female professors in 2019. Beyond the pay for their work, women also lack higher-level academic and administrative positions at GW.

Out of 18 of the University’s highest paid administrative members as of 2021, only five were women. Women — and particularly women of color — are consistently underpaid and underrepresented in top university roles. It’s no different at GW or some of our peer institutions like Northeastern University, Tufts University and Tulane University, to name a few.

And while GW has made some progress with addressing gender inequality among its higher-level employees like hiring the school’s first-ever female president, Ellen Granberg, it needs to do more preferably starting with paying women fairly and equally.

Some of those same peer universities have found ways to address gender discrimination where GW hasn’t. Syracuse University, attempting to remain committed to pay equity, shifted salaries for over 150 female faculty members to redress wage imbalances between male and female professors in 2017. These adjustments totaled nearly $2 million. And Boston University’s School of Public Health created a salary equity task force for the school’s dean in 2017, a policy GW should follow.

Clearly, having a majority-female student body and a majority-female faculty hasn’t been enough to convince the University to pay its female professors an equitable salary to men. The first female University president in GW’s history is a step in the right direction, but it’s just that — one step of many. GW’s human resource management says the University has a “longstanding commitment to treating all of its employees equitably and fairly in all aspects of employment, including in compensation.” That shouldn’t be boilerplate language, let alone a false claim.

It’s time to acknowledge the underpayment and underpromotion of female professors and administrators at GW, starting with greater transparency surrounding faculty salaries and the hiring process. The University should first acknowledge its disproportional promotion of male faculty and the subsequent lack of advancement opportunities for female faculty members. It also needs to publish a clear and comprehensive salary report so female faculty members know how much they are being paid in comparison to their male counterparts across each department.

We realize that publicly admitting to gender discrimination may be difficult, but complete pay transparency, if properly executed, could become the catalyst for paying female administrators and faculty their rightly earned wages.

Every member of the faculty has a right to a salary and chance of promotion commensurate with their skills and regardless of their gender. The phrase “women deserve equal pay” has long been a battle cry. At GW, it ought to become reality.

The editorial board consists of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s staff editorial was written by Editorials Assistant Paige Baratta based on discussions with Contributing Culture Editor Jenna Baer, Opinions Editor Ethan Benn, Contributing Social Media Director Anaya Bhatt, Contributing Opinions Editor Riley Goodfellow and Social Media Director Ethan Valliath.

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