Pay equity under fire

By Emily Senger

More than 30 years since Canada passed equal pay for equal work legislation, female professors at the University of Calgary are still making less than their male co-workers.

Two reports outlining gender inequality among U of C faculty were officially presented to female faculty members at a luncheon on Fri., Sept. 16. The results showed women generally work more hours per week than men, but for an average of $76,042 per year compared to the average male faculty member’s salary of $92,221.

Doctor Hermina Joldersma, outgoing President’s Advisor on Woman’s Issues and author of the report: Next Steps, Report of the Gender Equity Project said the wage disparity is one of many indicators that gender inequality still exists.

“I think that society in general does not value women’s work as much as men’s and that has an effect at the university even if we don’t notice it,” said Joldersma.

The two reports come in the wake of a June Statistics Canada report, which indicated the U of C has the largest wage gap between male and female professors among universities across Canada.

U of C Vice-President Finance and Services Mike McAdam responded to the June StatsCan report by explaining that it reflected sexist hiring practices of the 1960s and ’70s. McAdam said the relative youth of the U of C meant most tenured professors were hired in this period and predicted gender gaps should disappear within the next 10 years as male tenured professors retire.

Joldersma, though, did not totally agree.

“I don’t think it’s that simple,” she said. “The salary study is just a side bar–it’s a symptom of all the things that make life more difficult for women.”

Joldersma pointed to positive examples, such as the Schulich School of Engineering, which has made a point of hiring female professors, and encouraging female students to enter a traditionally male-dominated field.

In response to the two reports, U of C administration has identified 10 initial recommendations to act upon, including a detailed analysis of faculties where inexplicable differences in salaries exist. Four of the areas to be examined in depth are the departments of Economics, Psychology, Oncology and French, Italian and Spanish.

Students’ Union VP External Jen Smith was one of the few students to attend the luncheon.

“The university is one of the last places where you would expect something like this,” commented Smith. “But, the situation is getting better. If it’s a public issue then it’s harder to ignore.”

Smith said the SU has one student representative on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women who will monitor the recommendations as they are implemented.