It’s not much of a secret that women are routinely paid less than their male counterparts in the United States — to the tune of about 20 percent. It’s such a non-secret that even those who call the gap a “myth” don’t actually deny it as much as say “who cares?” Which makes the word “myth” more of a PR move to sell a license to be a prick. Usually literally.
More of a secret is the fact that even bastions of self-described enlightenment participate in this system. For example, academia. A new report by research site FindTheBest discovered that some of the top universities in the country — most boasting law schools — systematically underpaid female faculty.
And one law school clocked a $44,000/year pay gap between male and female faculty, making it the second-worst offender in the study….
Per the report, New York Law School pays its male professors on average $246,312, while its female professors take home on average $186,480. It’s worth noting that, despite the massive gap, this also means NYLS pays women among the highest salaries in the study. On the other hand, most of the schools in the study are grouped in with the entire university system, making it difficult to compare apples to apples when it comes to female law faculty at, say, third-worst offender Penn and a stand-alone program like NYLS. We’ve reached out to FindTheBest and requested a breakout for law faculty at these schools. If we receive that information, we will update this story accordingly.
Check out the top 10 offenders:
Dean Anthony Crowell of NYLS spoke with the Huffington Post about this study:
NYLS Dean and President Anthony W. Crowell said they are “committed to principles of equity throughout the institution.”
“When I arrived two years ago,” Crowell said, “we began to evaluate the entire operation, and we continue to identify areas where changes may be necessary. Compensation is one area that has been under review.”
The most troubling aspect of this report is that even the usual “justifications” for the gender pay gap fall away when you focus on the academy. “Women can’t be counted on to work full-time because of kids” just doesn’t cut it as an excuse when professors already enjoy schedule flexibility that most of us only dream of. And bootstrapping the private sector’s issues (e.g., “male professors can command more in the private sector so schools have to pay a premium to hold them”) is both lazy (because a professor aching for private-sector cash isn’t swayed by a $40K) and likely untrue (because how many firms are beating a path to every “Law and…” professor’s door?). Add in the fact that professors with skills valuable to the private sector will still secure lucrative consulting and expert testimony deals, and there’s really no reason to pretend that schools need to offer unbalanced salaries to retain faculty.
In any event, this is why transparency as a general matter is such a critical part of quality of life in the workplace, whether you’re working in academia or for a Biglaw firm. As more and more firms go “black box” with their compensation — under the bizarre logic that it’s really in your interest that your employer have the freedom to make unexamined decisions that impact your life — this sort of discrimination gets swept further under the rug. That’s why we work so hard to pierce the veil of secrecy surrounding associate pay packages.
You can’t stand up to what you can’t see.