Gender equality: Don't look for it in the workplace

I want to set a good example for my son, Megan Doonan, undergraduate Marketing major, said when asked why she is in college. Also, as a single mother I need to have the ability to provide a stable future for him.

Female students such as Doonan have an uphill battle to fight once they enter the workplace.


I want to set a good example for my son, Megan Doonan, undergraduate Marketing major, said when asked why she is in college. Also, as a single mother I need to have the ability to provide a stable future for him.

Female students such as Doonan have an uphill battle to fight once they enter the workplace.

A year after graduation, female students are already earning 20 percent less than men, Paula Maggio, lecturer in the Women’s Studies Department, said. According to the American Association of University Women’s Behind the Pay Gap report, the disparity in pay reaches 31 percent 10 years after graduation.

According to a report by the AAUW, in 2009 the average salary for men was $44,563 while the average salary for women was $33,616 in the state of Ohio. Therefore, women in Ohio, on average, had 25 percent less earning power only two years ago.

Such high rates of inequity in pay hurt more than women’s bank account balances. As Linda Hallman, Executive Director of AAUW, explained at a recent interview in downtown Akron, It’s a family issue, not just a women’s issue anymore.

When women are paid less, they have less money to support themselves and their families. In fact, 82.6 percent of custodial parents are mothers, and one-third of them are below poverty level – that is over twice the poverty rate of the entire population according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With so many single mothers living in poverty, it is easy to see how inequity in pay significantly impacts children as well.

The American Association of University Professors has published reports looking into this issue and found that progress toward equity in the academic community is slow. They identified four indicators to measure equity in a visible way: employment status, tenure status, full professor rank and average salary.

After surveying 1,445 universities and colleges in 2006, what AAUP found was that although women made up 49.2 percent of the part-time faculty members, they only made up 39.1 percent of the full-time faculty members.

When looking at tenure status, it found that women made up 52.4 percent of non tenure-track faculty, 44.8 percent of tenure-track faculty, and only 31.2 percent of tenured faculty members.

The third indicator, full professor rank, illustrated even more disparity. Only 24.4 percent of faculty with full professor rank were women, compared to 75.6 percent men.

Finally, on average, women faculty members were paid 19.3 percent less than men faculty members.

The University of Akron participated in this survey. At The University of Akron, women made up 51.7 percent of the part-time faculty and 40.9 percent of the full-time faculty members.

Also, The University of Akron reported women made up 69.4 percent of non tenure-track faculty, 41.5 percent of tenure-track faculty and 35.7 percent of tenured faculty.

Following the nationwide trend, faculty with the title of full professor at The University of Akron was made up of 75.2 percent men and only 24.8 percent women.

Finally, the average salary of all faculty members shows that on average, female faculty members made 21.6 percent less than their male counterparts.

AAUW continues to fight this battle against inequity in Washington D.C. Their Behind the Pay Gap report in 2007 helped push the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act in Congress in 2009. Hallman explained that they are currently working hard to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was previously defeated in the Senate in 2010.

The Paycheck Fairness Act was reintroduced on Equal Pay Day, April 12, 2011, in order to update the 1963 Equal Pay Act. (Equal Pay Day symbolizes the amount of time women have to work into 2011 to make the same amount men did in 2010).

According to the AAUW, the Paycheck Fairness Act would create stronger incentives for employers to follow the law, empower women to negotiate for equal pay, and strengthen federal outreach, education and enforcement efforts.

Hallman is not optimistic about a lot of women’s issues going through in this Congress. If this is a cause you feel strongly about, AAUW recommends contacting your representatives in Congress, and let them know you care about this issue.

John W. Curtis, director of Research and Public Policy for the American Association of University Professors, noted in his report, Persistent Inequality: Gender and Academic Employment, I believe it’s vital that we continue to raise the issues and alert our colleagues, our leaders, and our communities that the struggle for equity has not yet been won.


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