UNM responds to pay gap claims

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Earlier this month, almost 700 alumni, students, faculty, staff and fans of UNM called on the university to take action to close an apparently growing pay gap between men and women in professorial positions at the state’s flagship university.

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After we shared the news from the Chronicle of Higher Education and Albuquerque Business First showing that UNM’s pay gap between male and female professors exceeds the national average, UNM reached out to us at ProgressNowNM to share their concerns and actions underway to address it. (Read more: UNM has a really bad reason for paying women equally)

UNM says the initial data reported in news outlets was not entirely complete.  From the Albuquerque Business First:

The University of New Mexico is claiming that the gender pay gap among its professors is less than has been reported.

In a statement to Business First, the university says it incorrectly reported salary data to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which is a program within the National Center for Education Statistics, the statistics are based on the average nine-month-equivalent salary. Salary data for assistant professors, for example, was not included.

According to Greg Heileman, associate provost, the wage gap between men and women is much smaller when looking specifically at educator roles. During the 2013-2014 academic year, female professors made 5.5 percent less than male professors, associate professors made 4.4 percent less and lecturers made 7.4 percent less. On the other hand, male instructors made almost 30 percent less than their female counterparts during 2013-2014. UNM says data provided to Business First (see accompanying chart) illustrates that the wage gap was tightened during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Still, the university admits, a pay gap between men and women exists and more complete data may show that it represents an even larger gap overall:

Still, the school said the total percent difference in pay among men and women educators during 2013-2014 was 14.2 percent — even greater than the difference that was originally reported. Based on the original number, the percent difference for 2013-2014 was 12.5 percent. UNM says the percent difference during 2014-2015 has decreased to 11.6 percent. Heileman said total difference is greater than differences for individual roles because IPEDS “weights the average monthly salaries according to full-time versus part-time [employment] and nine-month versus 12-month contracts.”

Action Plan

The university is already addressing the issue by presented a plan to address wage inequity issues across campus to the Board of Regents.

And Provost Abdallah reiterated UNM’s commitment to addressing institutional issues affecting pay inequity while pointing out that factors outside of UNM’s control remain unchanged. Again, from the ABQ Business First:

“Some differentials are matters of market forces. A female law professor, for example, makes more than a male history professor at the same rank. Also, women have traditionally been more reticent to negotiate for higher salaries than men have. We are determined to remedy inequities not created by market forces, and to empower all faculty to advocate on their own behalf.”

In the Business First interview, Abdallah said the pay gap was due, in part, to women not negotiating and delaying careers and promotions for family. In addition, he said that “the lowest paid professors are where females are a majority such as education or the arts.”
UNM said that it has many classes and programs that empower women, but did not specify whether that involves teaching salary negotiation.

Actions Elevate Debate

Petitioners have helped to elevate the issue and opened the door for better dialogue with the university on this important issue. As UNM works to address the issue, we can all work to support their efforts while working to address other factors perpetuating pay inequity for women across New Mexico.