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Women Faculty: Still Trailing After All These Years

Women Faculty: Still Trailing After All These Years

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has released an update on gender equity in academia. The sad story is that the 2003-2004 figures show little improvement in the salary gap over 25 years of higher education history.

Among full-time faculty, for example, 38 percent are women. But among full professors, only 23 percent are women. Conversely, women are well-represented among the lower ranks; women are 58 percent of all instructors, 54 percent of all lecturers and hold 51 percent of all unranked positions.

The report on earnings shows a similarly skewed picture. On average among full-time faculty, across all ranks and types of institutions, women earn 80 percent of what men earn. While this disparity can be explained in part by the uneven distributions across ranks, as described above, there’s more to the story. At the full professor level, for example, women earn about 88 percent of what their male counterparts earn.

Apparently, the higher the institution’s prestige, the greater the gender gap. At community colleges without faculty ranks, women earn on average 96 percent of what men earn. The gap grows at baccalaureate and master’s institutions, where women earn 89 and 87 percent, respectively, of the male average. At doctoral-level institutions, women earn only 78 percent of the average male faculty salary.

These and other figures are provided in “Faculty Salary and Faculty Distribution Fact Sheet, 2003-04” prepared by Dr. John W. Curtis, research director at the AAUP.

Dr. Muriel Poston, chair of AAUP’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession, welcomed the updated analysis.

“‘The Faculty Salary and Faculty Distribution Fact Sheet’ is an important resource for understanding the status of women faculty with regard to salary equity and progression through rank. Faculty members will find this document a useful tool in planning for female faculty recruitment or salary equity improvements. The committee is pleased to have updated figures published now on a regular basis.”

The analysis, which is also available online at, is based on the results of the AAUP’s annual faculty compensations survey, a comprehensive study of faculty salaries, benefits and tenure status, published in April 2004, and relied upon by institutions throughout the country to evaluate their compensation of faculty relative to peer institutions. Excerpts from the “Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession” are available on the AAUP Web site at

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