The University of Calgary has the largest salary gender gap in the country, according to a recently released Statistics Canada report that compared earnings of full-time teaching staff at Canadian universities.
Female U of C professors make an average of almost $18,000 less than their male counterparts. The report, which included full-time professors, associates, assistants and all other ranks, found male U of C professors make an average of $101,645 per year, and female professors make an average of $84,070.
University administration said the discrepancies can be explained in large part by looking at the hiring practices during the 1960s and 1970s which favoured male applicants.
"Men were hired in much larger numbers 20-30 years ago," said U of C Vice-President Finance and Services Mike McAdam. "If you look at the hiring patterns in recent years you will find almost no discrepancies in those groups on a gender basis. The fact is that we're a pretty brand new school and we have a lot of folks that were hired in the period discussed."
According to McAdam, salary discrepancies should lessen in the next five to 10 years as male tenured professors retire.
The president of the U of C Faculty Association, Anton Colijn, is concerned with the Statistics Canada findings. Colijn said TUCFA promotes gender equality by having a representative sit on the university's Working Group on Faculty Salary Equity. TUCFA can also represent staff members who feel they have been discriminated against on an individual basis.
"We may be able to do something about the remaining discrimination," said Colijn. "If any faculty member is not being treated right then the Faculty Association represents that person and that can include gender related issues."
Colijn said TUCFA also lobbies for measures such as better day care facilities to accommodate staff with children.
Salary discrepancies in the report were not limited to the U of C. Other universities across the country reported similar salary gaps between male and female instructors. U of C Women's Studies Professor Dr. Rebecca Sullivan said the trend is related to the overall academic climate.
"Calgary has the dubious honour of being number one, but it's a country-wide problem," said Sullivan. "It has to do with the organizational cult of academia."
Sullivan said the university climate makes it difficult for women to succeed because of family commitments, noting all universities need to take steps to allow women to balance family and career.
"If you take a year off to have a baby, it's a year of salary discrepancy," said Sullivan.