The University of California at Berkeley has promised swift corrective action after an internal audit of its faculty salaries revealed that even the famed bastion of liberalism has a small pay gap between the salaries of white male professors and the salaries of everybody else.
According to an internal report by the college, female professors earned between 1.8 and 4.3 percent less than their white male colleagues in the same field, even after adjusting for their experience. Underrepresented minorities (that is, non-Asian minorities) were also paid slightly less, earning between 1 and 1.8 percent less than white men. That’s the equivalent to a few years of teaching experience.
Berkeley’s researchers could offer no reason for the deficit, but suggested that “implicit bias” among its notoriously liberal faculty could have played a role.
The gap may seem small, but Berkeley is promising a big overhaul of its salary and benefits structures to get rid of it, as well as a “climate survey” to see if faculty members are suffering from a racist, sexist environment.
“Anything about equity for our faculty feels like an urgent issue to me — not because the study stands out in the national landscape, but because I want all our wonderful Berkeley faculty members to be supported and rewarded the way that they should be,” vice provost for faculty Janet Broughton said in the school’s announcement.
Economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research suggested that Berkeley may be overreacting. Even if the school accounted for field and years of experience, she said, many other factors can come into play and affect salaries.
“It’s very difficult to account for all factors,” Furchtgott-Roth told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Did they account for number of publications? What about citations?”
As it turns out, Berkeley did consider counting academic citations but rejected it (arguing that, among other things, men are more likely to cite other men). But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Furchtgott-Roth said, and in any case, not every factor necessarily has data on it. Given those limitations, she said, the university is likely overreacting.
“A pay gap of 2 to 5 percent is relatively small, and they shouldn’t worry about it,” she said. If Berkeley wants to fix inequality, she suggested, there are better ways it could do so.
“They should be focusing more on issues like getting more minority males to graduate and get into the workforce,” she said.
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