Report Examines Gender Pay Disparities Among Top Earners in Higher Ed

Diverse Issue in Higher Education
By Autumn A. Arnett
February 24, 2021

A new report from the Women’s Power Gap Initiative at the Eos Foundation and the American Association of University Women found that while 60% of all higher ed professionals are women, 76% of top earners and 82% of number one earners are men. And women of color are “virtually nonexistent” among the top-earning positions in higher education.

“We didn’t expect to find a large number of women of color, but we didn’t expect that they’d be only 2.5% cumulative” across all top-earning positions in higher ed, said Eos Foundation President Andrea Silbert, who authored the report, titled, “The Power Gap Among Top Earners at America’s Elite Universities.” The report examines gender, race and ethnicity among ten most highly compensated employees at 130 major research institutions in the U.S.

AAUW CEO Kimberly Churches wasn’t too shocked by the findings, she said. “I’ll explain it for you: It’s called bias, and that’s why this gap is occurring.”

“The pipeline is there,” Churches said, adding that women have been besting men in degree attainment “for decades.” Women earn 54% of all Ph.D.s and 60% of all master’s degrees, yet hold only 2% of top-earning positions at universities. The report finds that women of color earn 16% of all Ph.D.s yet comprise only 2% of top earners at top-tier higher ed institutions.

“This is about occupational segregation,” Churches said. “The higher we go up in professions, the issues we have on the wage gaps are worse.”

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