University of Vermont

College of Education and Social Sciences

Doctoral Programs in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Maureen Fitzgerald-Riker: Tracking Tenure: Gendered Wage Discrepancy and the Relationship to Work Environment (2012-11-30)

Fitzgerald-Riker, Maureen | Waterman 427A | 2012-11-30 | 2:00 p.m.

This dissertation research study tracked changes in the gender wage gap at one Northeastern university over a seven year period and illuminated systemic factors that make it difficult to completely eradicate wage disparity. A mixed method approach was employed to determine the status of wage equity as well as reveal significant factors that influenced tenure-track faculty salary. Performance awards and wages were statistically analyzed and interviews as well as attitude surveys were used to help unpack the factors that influenced gendered wage inequity.

The data analysis revealed that from 2005 to 2011, the discrepancy in earnings between male and female tenure track faculty declined from 8.4% t0 5.4%.  Performance awards distributed over the same seven year period were equitably allocated. Informants attributed a growing egalitarian environment and an increase in the number of female chairs to the declining wage gap.

The tenure track positions women held within and among academic departments had a significant impact on wage disparity. Females were noticeably absent from higher paying faculty positions. This is particularly apparent in the number of female full professors, which has lethargically increased since 2005 and currently lags behind the number of male professors by 30%. Likewise, the number of women in STEM fields remains stagnant and informants revealed through interviews, that attracting and retaining women in computer science, mathematics and chemistry is problematic in spite of competitive starting salaries.

The stratification of women holding lower ranks within the tenure system and within less lucrative academic professions such as education and social sciences was the greatest factor contributing to wage inequity among tenured faculty members at this university. The results of this study imply that an egalitarian environment, along with continual monitoring of the promotion of women within the tenure track system, and a purposeful reallocation of resources is called for in order to eradicate wage disparity at this university.

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