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Full Transparency, Full Equality

By Michael Gritzbach
By The Crimson Editorial Board
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board.

According to a recent nationwide survey on compensation in higher education, tenured female professors at Harvard make 92.5 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Harvard’s pay gap ranked roughly in the middle of the Ivy League. The gap is worse than those at Brown and Yale, where tenured female faculty receive 95 cents on the dollar, but better than Dartmouth’s 82.5 cents.

While we acknowledge that Harvard’s pay rate is for female faculty is decently above the national gender pay gap of 85 cents per dollar and is only a few cents shy of the most equal paying schools in the Ivy League, we are still far from content. The gender pay gap at Harvard, other universities, and all employers across the nation should have been closed long ago. Though 92.5 cents per dollar is marginally better than the 2015 surveyed figure of 92.3 cents, this gap is still egregious merely by virtue of the fact that it is not parity. We will not be satisfied until all female faculty members — tenured, associate, assistant, and instructor — are making one dollar for every dollar earned by male faculty.

But this statistic tells only part of the story. We are still more disappointed by the fact that that only 27 percent of current tenured faculty are female. That female professors constitute only slightly over a quarter of tenured faculty at the University while about half of the College student body is female is both practically and ideologically unacceptable. Female students will be looking for role models who can speak to the specificity of their experiences, and a narrower pool of female professors puts them at a disadvantage in this search and may adversely impact their education.

In order to better understand and tackle this problem, we wish to see the gender pay gap data from this survey stratified by discipline to see if certain fields have worse pay gaps than others. We would also like to see the average pay data for all professors stratified by discipline, as we are concerned that professors in typically male-dominated departments like STEM could be making more than professors in departments that are unfairly associated with “feminine” occupations, such as the humanities, and that this trend could be used to justify the existing pay gap. Even if females are paid comparably to men within the same discipline, professors in a typically male-dominated disciplines could be earning more than a female-dominated disciplines. If this were the case, the problem at hand would take on a different form: namely, lifting up the women who do good academic work in these disciplines to bring them to the highest levels of academia.

We would also like to see professor compensation stratified along other types of diversity, such as race and sexuality, so that any pay gaps in those respects can be both observed and rectified — particularly for women of color or for professors who are BGLTQ-identifying. The gender pay gap and pay gaps affecting other minority groups at Harvard and beyond are a multidimensional, systemic problem that cannot be analyzed with only two columns of numbers. Harvard must work towards full transparency in pursuit of full equality.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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