Female faculty members’ salaries adjusted to remedy former gender inequalities

Measures were taken to correct faculty salary discrepancies, in response to the report made by the Subcommittee of Gender and Salary Equity last fall.

Current provost, Professor of Economics Catharine Hill explained that adjustments have been made to the salaries of both associate and full female professors. Hill said, “The adjustments average about $1,400 [a year] and are being made effective July 1, 1999. The adjustments are a function of years of experience at Williams. The total money allocated is about $53,000.”

Professor of English Alison Case said, “Personally, I am perfectly satisfied with the fix, and confident that it levels the playing field for salaries starting from now. The process took much longer than expected, and as a result the fix came a year later than many of us hoped, but in my opinion it is a well-conceived and equitable response to the results.”

The salary discrepancies uncovered by the subcommittee were presented by Professor of Mathematics Richard De Veaux at a faculty meeting in the fall of 1998. The committee created a model of the faculty salaries that could be used to predict individual salaries. Variables such as department, year of Ph.D. and whether or not the faculty member came to Williams with tenure were factored into the model. Analysts then calculated the discrepancy between predicted salaries and actual salaries.

The first finding of the committee revealed a group of associate professors who were paid between $4,000 and $6,000 less than the salary predicted by the statistical model. A number of years ago the College discovered it incorrectly calculated the mortgage benefits for professors. An attempt to remedy the miscalculation in 1995 resulted in an inadequate adjustment to the salaries of associate professors. De Veaux said the proper adjustments have since been made.

The committee also discovered a difference in the average residuals, the differences between the actual and predicted salaries, of male and female professors. De Veaux said, “Women on average seem to be paid slightly less than men accounting for all other factors.”

When the average residual of all male salaries was compared to the average residual of all female salaries, the male average residual was approximately $1,000 higher. When only those professors who have worked at Williams College for fewer than 15 years were considered, the difference in the average residual dropped to $200. The adjustments made effective July 1999 targeted this discrepancy.

Hill explained how the adjustments were agreed upon.

“The adjustments were proposed by the Provost’s Office, discussed with the Faculty Compensation Committee, the Steering Committee, the CAP [Committee on Appointments and Promotions] and the administration.” She added, “The Dean of the faculty and Provost Offices will continue to monitor the faculty salary structure in the future, as will the Faculty Compensation Committee.”

Chair of the English Department Christopher Pye said, “Such measures are important because we want to assure ourselves that we have structures of compensation that are non-discriminatory, that faculty are rewarded comparably for comparable work and service.”

De Veaux said, “We’re now dealing with a level playing field. The data has never looked so good.” He added, “Men and women are now indistinguishable in terms of salary which is as it should be.”

The committee also reported on the existence of a group of 20 professors earning salaries that are significantly higher than the salaries predicted by the statistical model. Almost all these professors are male.

Hill said that upon the recommendation of the Subcommittee of Gender and Salary Equity an ad hoc committee was formed to investigate the possible reasons for this positive residual.

Suzanne Graver, the John Hawley Roberts Professor of English and a member of the ad hoc committee, said the committee presented its findings in a report sent to the Faculty Compensation Committee, the Faculty Steering Committee and the provost, the dean of the faculty, and the president in December 1998.

The ad hoc committee came up with a set of 12 salary “factors” which it used to examine the salaries of each of the 20 faculty members in the study. After taking into consideration the salary factors, the committee decided the salary range within this group was appropriate. The committee also addressed the concern that the majority of this group was male.

The committee brought attention to factors that were more salient in male salaries than in women’s salaries. For example, service as committee chair, service as the chair of a department or as the director of a major college program and senior outside appointment were all factors in determining faculty salaries at Williams.

Historically, women had a lower percentage representation in each of these factors when compared with men. In addition, a higher percentage of female tenured faculty have left the College in the last 12 years when compared with male tenured faculty. Graver explained this last point is less of an issue after a relatively large number of tenured male faculty left the College after last year.

Graver explained the work done by the ad hoc committee contributed to the adjustments made to female faculty salaries. In addition, the Provost’s Office studied the issue of gender equity in faculty salaries over the summer. The ad hoc committee recommended a further investigation by the Steering Committee into the issue of merit for determining salaries.

Hill said, “The Steering Committee is looking into the issue of merit this year, and the extent to which it should affect salary. Some of the issues are how to measure it, how much weight to place on scholarship, teaching and service to the College, and who should measure it.”

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