We, members of the Committee on the Status of Women (COSOW), welcome coverage of COSOW’s charge and efforts. However, we are concerned that the inaccuracies in your article, “‘I can’t believe that happens’: Status of Women Committee discusses pay discrepancies at UNC” (published by The DTH online April 20, 2018) are damaging to the COSOW’s efforts to bring solutions to gender issues at UNC-CH. Below, we detail the inaccuracies. Ultimately, we request that the DTH publish a statement of the inaccuracies, retract the article and pull it from the website.
The article contained numerous inaccuracies, misquotations, quotations taken out of context, and reflected conceptual misunderstandings about the complex issues that the COSOW addressed in our meeting (e.g., pay inequities, childcare, and cross-campus relationships). In addition to the original misquotation of Dr. Elizabeth Dickinson (now published online with a note of clarification, which we greatly appreciated), the article contains these seven inaccuracies:
1. The article notes, “Although base salaries are public information in some departments, these numbers are not representative of a faculty member’s cumulative income.” It is correct that base salaries do not reflect additional earnings and income, as was the topic of our conversation. But, to our knowledge, because they are public employees, all UNC employees’ base salaries (perhaps with some exceptions) are public information, and not just in some departments.
2. The fourth paragraph mischaracterizes Dr. Kenya McNeal-Trice’s example—a hypothetical for the sake of explanation—as an experience—something that has happened. The article says, “In [Dr. McNeal-Trice’s] experience, base salaries may make up only 40 percent of the actual income of faculty in her department and school, which may contribute to income disparities.” This was part of Dr. McNeal-Trice’s hypothetical example, but the article represents it as an experience.
3. The quotations from Ana Felix and Sarah Birken were out of context and thus gave the sense that they were unprofessional and irrelevant.