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University of Manitoba Slammed in Study For Sexist Faculty Hiring & Promotion Practices (PTers Overwhelmingly Female)

By Nick Martin

Three University of Manitoba professors have launched a scathing attack on their university for employing far more male than female professors and for allegedly paying women less than men.

The study, “Ten Years After: Sex and Salaries at a Canadian University,” was published last month by the journal Canadian Public Policy, and written by U of M economics professors Laura Brown and Elizabeth Troutt, and sociology professor Susan Prentice.

The study compares U of M faculty in 1993 and 2003 — and though the data are eight years old, Brown argued that the study shows the need for the university to track and publish each professor’s starting salary and record of promotion, so that up-to-date comparisons are possible.

Women are slowly gaining among the faculty, Brown said in an interview, but, “I would call the pace glacial. Society is still overwhelmingly sexist. There’s a huge problem with data availability — if the data were available, both the university and the union would have their feet to the fire,” Brown said.

But U of M says there are a lot of problems with the professors’ study, not least of which is using figures from eight years ago.

“We have concerns with the methodology of the study,” said Leah Janzen, associate director of communications and marketing.

“Our commitment is clear to employment equity,” Janzen said. “To us, it doesn’t give the complete picture.”

Janzen said that starting salaries vary through a wide range of conditions: years since the professor earned a Ph.D., previous academic or workplace experience, and market conditions within his or her field.

Starting salary can be higher if candidates in a particular field are scarce, or if universities have to compete with the private sector or government to hire someone with specific knowledge and skills, she said.

Once someone is hired, all raises are covered by the contract with the faculty association, and any professor is free to apply for promotion at any time, she said.

Brown said the three professors conducted the study on their own time, following up on a 1993 study of gender and salaries at U of M that arose from a human rights complaint.

Data from 2003 showed that women professors had increased from 19.4 per cent of the faculty in 1993 to 28.5 per cent, but those gains were concentrated in the lowest-paid categories.

As of 2003, women were paid less than men in every job category — 92 per cent of what male full professors received, 94 per cent for associate professors, and 97 per cent for assistant professors, the three professors found.

Overall, U of M employed fewer professors in 2003 than a decade before, and the growing ranks of part-time lecturers have been overwhelmingly women, Brown said.

At a time when close to 57 per cent of U of M’s students are women, “It’s probably going to take two generations” for the university to have as many women professors as men, Brown said.

Brown said that neither U of M nor the faculty union tracks the data necessary to do up-to-date comparisons. Statistical analysis requires being able to track individuals year-by-year, to know starting salaries, and to know how long it took each man and woman on the faculty to be promoted from assistant to associate professor, and from associate to full professor.

While the contract specifies annual raises and increments, Brown said, “The starting salary is not fixed. It’s not systematic. The deans and department heads decide what they’re going to offer.”

In the fallout from the 1993 study, said U of M Faculty Association president Professor Cameron Morrill, “The University adjusted each woman’s baseline salary upward by 2.84 per cent over the years 1994 and 1995. (A) committee also recommended monitoring of hiring, promotion and other practices on campus to prevent further sex discrimination but these recommendations were not implemented,” Morrill said.

“Most recently in 2009, UMFA has proposed another joint committee to identify and remedy current salary inequities based on sex at the U of M; and to put in place monitoring mechanisms that will ensure that this salary gap does not recur,” said Morrill.

“We hope that the results of the Brown, Troutt, and Prentice study will convince the administration that this committee is necessary,” he said.

 

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