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.
4. Chancellor Carol Folt did not “[refuse] to share results with committee members.” The Chancellor mentioned a salary equity study for which the results are not yet available. Counihan and Wissick commented that they were unaware of any university-wide study
and would like to know more. This statement makes it look like we are saying Chancellor Folt “refused” to share results, which damages the on-going relationship between the COSOW and the Cancellor’s office.
5. The quote from Brent Wissick (“Even if they’re not ready to release those results …”) is inaccurate and was reported out of context. We were speaking in hypotheticals, as we don’t know about the study, and thus any results.
6. The costs cited for childcare are inaccurate. Full-time childcare during the academic year can cost from $800-$1400/month (or more with private care or less with subsidized care), depending on the child’s age, the kind of childcare facility, etc. Summer camps range from free to $500/week, or higher, depending on various factors (such as early and late care).
7. The committee proposed a conversation with the Office of Sponsored Research to discuss which grants and funding agencies allow applicants to include dependent care-related costs in proposal budgets, not for general childcare costs as was suggested in the article.
Given these inaccuracies and quotations taken out of context, we request that the DTH publish a statement of the inaccuracies, retract the article, and pull it from your website.
We would also be more than willing to have a conversation with DTH staff about this experience and our work to provide information context to help The DTH to understand the complexities of the COSOW and our efforts for future reporting.
The Committee on the Status of Women committee members and guests:
Brent Wissick (A&S, Dept of Music), Co-chair
Margot Stein, Chair (Sch of Dentistry), Co-chair, outgoing
Elizabeth Dickinson (Business Sch), Co-chair, incoming
Sarah Birken (Sch of Pub Health)
Clare Counihan (CWC)
Ana Felix (Sch of Medicine)
Kenya McNeal-Trice (Sch of Medicine)
Jada Brooks (Sch of Nursing)
Susan Girdler (Sch of Medicine)
Beatriz Paniagua (Computer Science)
Jennifer Larson (A&S, English)
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