A recent report by Noah Eisenkraft, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at UNC, found that across the University, male faculty members earned 28 percent more than female faculty members from 2014 to 2017.
“If this is something that people care about — if they care about men and women being paid equally — then this is a sign that we're not done,” Eisenkraft said.
Eisenkraft was invited by UNC's Committee on the Status of Women, or COSOW, to reanalyze the 2016-2017 Faculty Equity Report from UNC’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, and his findings were not very surprising to those involved.
“It's on par with what the pay gap is across the United States,” said Elizabeth Dickinson, co-chairperson of COSOW and a clinical associate professor of communication at the Kenan-Flagler Business School. “So, I think it just shows that pay inequity problems that exist in the United States and in different industries also exist in universities and colleges.”
Eisenkraft’s report, a 2019 Re-Analysis of Gender Pay Inequity at UNC-Chapel Hill, was released March 5 and looked at faculty information using different methods to see what else could be found.
“This comes down to a different way of looking at data,” Dickinson said. “Often, in statistical analysis, they will control for variables, and we didn't want to control for the variables. We just wanted to see a holistic number of all faculty members at UNC, if you break it down to gender, how they were paid, and the original study didn't do that.”
Both Eisenkraft and Dickinson said this was not intended to criticize UNC, but instead was done because of the nature of statistical analysis. Dickinson said it was done “to add more people, to add more data and to look at the data in a different light.” Eisenkraft said he read the report and had many questions about the research methods, and wondered how they could have been performed differently.
“As I looked through it, I said, ‘You know, there are some things here that don't make as much sense to me. I would have done it a little differently,’” Eisenkraft said.
Eisenkraft obtained the base salary, age, school, department and position of all 4,681 faculty members and determined each individual’s gender using name databases and looking at individual members’ websites. He said while this method for determining gender isn’t perfect, it can predict it with a good deal of accuracy.
Alongside the determination that men were paid 28 percent more than women, the report also showed the inequity was highest at the UNC School of Medicine and lowest at the UNC School of Nursing.
Eisenkraft also analyzed on the basis of department, position and age. He said while this problem can be attributed, in part, to historical discrimination, that is only one part of the issue.
“What I'm hoping is that this creates an opportunity to have a deeper dialogue, to get more faculty involved and to start to understand what we want to measure, and how we want to measure gender inequity, and whether that's an important issue and to figure out if we want to put resources and energy towards fixing this,” Eisenkraft said.
COSOW met March 21 to come up with recommendations to address the pay inequity, and Dickinson said that so far, they have determined that important steps are recognition of the problem, further research into the inequities and retention of important policies to help close the pay gap.
Dickinson said she believes a million-dollar solution is unnecessary, and research and policy promotion can be primary solutions for the discrepancy.
"Solving gender pay inequity really benefits everyone," Dickinson said. "It benefits families, it benefits people, it benefits UNC, it benefits cultures and societies, and it would be really great to see UNC, and I think UNC is capable of, being kind of a pioneer in addressing this issue. I think we're completely capable of doing that, and it would be really neat to see us take on that role."
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