According to Faculty Senate Chair Claire Finkelstein, though half of all Ivy League presidents are women, Amy Gutmann among them, Penn still ranks 11th in their proportion of male to female faculty out of 18 other comparable institutions.
Finkelstein was concerned primarily with the retention rate of female faculty. “The departure rate from the university is the best measure of inequity in salary that we have, and since the percentage of female faculty leaving the university has not decreased,” Finkelstein said, “It underscores that the gender gap in faculty salaries has not been substantially reduced.”
However, Director of Faculty Development and Equity Lubna Mian had a different view. “We are concerned with gender gaps in salaries, but it may be less significant than the initial raw data may show. Based on some national surveys, our salaries are above average,” she said. “We don’t want to deny the gap, but it’s important to emphasize that we don’t know the dimensions of the problem.”
Mian went on to explain that salary gaps based on gender may come from a complicated number of factors, and that when time and rank are factored into the equation, the gap becomes much smaller.
She then pointed out that compared to national surveys, Penn has salaries that are above average across the board. Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Anita Allen and Mian said that the gap in salaries is neither Penn nor higher education specific, and that the problem is society-wide.
“It’s in the air, not just universities but in society: when can we close the gap between male and female salaries? In every employment where both men and women are present we see gender gaps,” Allen said.
This universality stretches to Penn students as well. The average starting salary of a 2014 Penn graduate was $57,805 for males, and $50,563 for females — and students are aware of that disparity.
“I think there’s still a lot of unconscious stigmas attached to women in the workforce,” Wharton freshman April Chang said. “I think a lot of people don’t even realize they’re being sexist sometimes.”
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