Gender gap persists in college wages Women's salaries lag amid gains in share of faculty posts

January 13, 1996|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN STAFF

Women hold a greater proportion of faculty positions than they did a decade ago at Maryland's public colleges, but they still don't get paid as much as their male counterparts, a new state report shows.

"It shows we make progress slowly," said Patricia S. Florestano, the state higher education secretary. "Anybody who thinks the battle has been won, I think, has been overly optimistic. We continue to have to push. We cannot relax and say we have done the job."

In some fields, female scholars in this state have lost ground financially in comparison with their male colleagues, according to the survey. The report, released this week by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, compared 1984 and 1994 figures for professors at all public campuses.

"I find that's extraordinary, after all these efforts, after all this time," Dr. Michael Slote, chairman of the philosophy department at the University of Maryland College Park, said of the widespread disparities in salaries between men and women. "There's no easy explanation or excuse for that. It does seem like a depressing figure."

"Maybe [women] are led in the door but then there is some kind prejudice against them," Dr. Slote said. "But I see no evidence of that in our college."

Among the most significant findings:

* Since 1984, women have made modest but real strides toward parity in holding full-time faculty positions, particularly in the humanities and professional fields. Women make up almost 49.5 percent of professional faculty and 44.5 percent of humanities faculty at the four-year schools and they are a majority of the two segment's professoriate at two-year colleges.

* Women gained the most in business at the community colleges, where women now hold 44.6 percent of professorships, NTC up from 32.4 percent in 1984. At the state's four-year colleges, however, women dropped from 20.9 percent to 19.0 percent of faculty members. In science and social science, women made gains of a few percentage points at all campuses.

* While female faculty members closed the gap in pay with their peers in many fields, in some areas women lost ground to their male counterparts. At four-year colleges, male full professors in the professions (including education, journalism, health and law) earned $48,185 in 1984, about $6,400 a year more than women; '' in 1994, male professors in those areas earned $77,117 annually -- $12,400 more than female colleagues.

* Women were disproportionately hired at the lower end of the academic scale -- and therefore, were less likely to start in the higher paying positions. For example, 42.9 percent of new lecturers and 66.3 percent of new instructors were female at the four-year schools; while only 17.6 percent of new hires who were brought in as full professors were women there. The same trend, while less exaggerated, also occurred at the community colleges.

Joann Boughman, vice president for academic affairs at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, said the campuses' ability to make up the gender gap in pay was hampered by the state's strained finances. "Our hands are tied in higher education," Dr. Boughman said.

She also suggested that women academics were less likely than men to continue their academic careers without interruption.

"There are women who get their undergraduate degree, get their Ph.D., do their post-doctorate work, and then their seven-year tenure clock starts ticking" as faculty members, she said. "All of that happens in the biological period in a woman's life when she may be considering child-bearing."

In the past, some departments have not looked favorably on women professors seek tenure after taking time off to start families. "People may be starting to look at that differently," Dr. Boughman said.

The survey encompasses state's 18 two-year community colleges, the 11 campuses in theUniversity of Maryland System, and the state's two other publicly supported colleges: Morgan State University and St. Mary's College of Maryland. The study generally confirms the outlines of other such analyses nationally: last April, for example, the American Association of University Professors released a report stating that junior women faculty earned about the same as men, but male full faculty members earn more than their female peers.

But Dr. Florestano pointed hopefully to figures showing that women now make up a majority of students in Maryland, and said the next generation of faculty members will come from their ranks.

"That's really positive because that bodes well for the future," she said.

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