Equality missing on campus

By Jon Roe

There is a large salary gap between male and female professors at the University of Calgary.

This, despite a commitment from the university administration to address the discrepancy in 2005. A research paper released by Statistics Canada, published online March 9, showed that there was a $16,962 gap in average compensation, excluding medical and dental benefits, between male and female full-time teaching staff at the U of C. The report surveyed salaries from the 2006-07 academic year. A faculty salary equity report prepared four years ago for the Academic Women’s Association and then president’s advisor on women’s issues Dr. Hermina Joldersma showed an average gap of $16,179 in 2003.

U of C associate vice-president human resources Sandy Repic said pay discrepancy is due to the large gap in positions held by the sexes at the highest earning level for teaching staff. Eighty-two per cent of full professors are male.

“Part of the issue around that is the availability of qualified women at that senior level,” said Repic. “There just aren’t that many available.”

Full professors have no cap on salary. Males make up 61 per cent of associate professors and 57 per cent of assistant professors. The only area where women make up the majority is instructors — the lowest end of the pay scale for teaching staff who rarely make the leap to becoming associate or assistant professors, according to Repic.

English professor Dr. Jeanne Perreault helped prepare the 2005 salary equity report.

“We found significant and erratic gender gaps in pay, in promotion, in rank, in numbers of courses taught, in course evaluations — all sorts of things that gave us concern,” she said.

History professor Dr. Betsy Jameson, who also helped prepare the report, said they used regression analysis to examine the salary data. All but $3,000 of the gap was accounted for by factors such as rank, years since highest degree and the number and duration of leaves.

“The question is whether those are appropriate measures, for starters, and if they are, there was still almost three grand that couldn’t be explained,” Jameson said.

She then sat on a committee appointed by the president to discuss the implementation of that report’s recommendations and those of Next Steps, a report written by Joldersma in 2005. The committee was split into two subcommittees.

One suggested, among other things, that further analysis and review be done in the areas where the most significant gaps in salary existed. The other was charged with dealing with all other forms of gender discrimination or imbalance as outlined in the Next Steps report and make recommendations to the president.

“And nothing happened,” said Jameson.

“Nothing has been done,” echoed Perreault.

Repic said the university has taken steps to raise awareness on whether the merit increase process was actually gender neutral.

“We report the statistics regarding the awarding of merit for male and female to show by faculty, by rank, the gender distribution of the merit increments to try and raise awareness and to make sure people are sensitive,” she said. “The provost [Dr. Alan Harrison] would have access to that where he could raise concerns with any of the deans or probe into any of the outliers around that.”

She added that there is an appeal process if they disagree with an assessment and that the appeal decisions are attached to gender to minimalize gender bias.

Repic added that the office of the provost, led by vice-provost students Dr. Ann Tierney, has launched a review of all equity services at the university to ensure that they’re providing the best and most comprehensive human rights related services on campus for faculty, staff and students.

The university administration made a commitment with the University of Calgary Faculty Association to conduct a more detailed salary equity review.

“We just haven’t made progress yet,” said Repic. “We made a commitment to do this before 2010, so we’ll be trying to put that process together.”

Perreault said that the university has to want to ensure there is equity.

“Once they decide that it’s intolerable to continue working in an inequitable environment, they will have no trouble at all finding out how to get things done,” she said. “The university knows how to get lots of things done.”

“They could put aside money . . . they could consider this a significant and important project,” she continued. “To make reparation and balance the salary would not cost as much as building a new building does, but is it considered as important? Obviously not or it would’ve been done by now.”

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