Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gendered salary inequities

Note: This blog represents my personal views. As I've said before, I'm not writing on behalf of the Faculty Association in this or any other post. I sit on their executive, but the FA has a formal communications process (in which I participate), and the FA's page is where you should go for the FA's view on any particular issue.
One might think that universities would be places where merit and potential are judged blindly: where men and women start with similar salaries, get promoted at the same rate, and see comparable salary changes over time. It's meant to be an evidence-based environment, but the studies keep showing otherwise. Gender inequity occurs lots of areas, and it turns out that universities, indisputably, are no different.

Every university is different, so every one of them needs to look closely at the differentials in salary, promotion, status, and so on. Here in Canada recently, it was very big news among postsecondary institutions when UBC announced they'd be implementing a 2% pay increase for all female tenure-stream faculty, retroactive to July 1, 2010. The university's Equity Office looked closely at the numbers, and then the university negotiated with its Faculty Association to come up with an agreement to redress the average of $3,000 per female faculty member that couldn't be otherwise accounted for.

Here at UVic, as you might expect, the response to the UBC announcement has been a bit complicated.  We're all very pleased for UBC's female faculty, but "Why not us?" has been a common refrain. The Academic Women's Caucus has been watching over and talking about a gendered salary gap around here for a long time, and let's just say that UBC's move didn't relax anyone at UVic with gender climate concerns, especially if those concerns had to do with salary.

As the agenda in everyone's mailbox says, next week's general meeting of the UVic Faculty Association will include some discussion of this issue, and I'm pleased -- no, I'm really excited to say that it's not just a general discussion!

On June 29, 2012, at the end of negotiations between the UVic administration and the UVic Faculty Association, the chief negotiators signed off on an agreement to establish a joint task force to investigate and address gendered salary inequities at UVic.

In other words, UBC won't be the only BC university taking steps (eventually) to address the wage gap between male and female members of its faculty association.

For the last little while, this blog has been looking closely at decisions by UVic's executive, and I haven't been taking it easy on them. On this issue, I want to publicly commend their decision to agree with the Faculty Association proposal, and to say that I see it as a positive sign about this executive's intentions.

As well, I should say that during the lead-up to negotiations, and in fact during negotiations, the FA drew heavily on data and research collected by the AWC on this issue, including consulting with the AWC Chair. The AWC deserves a lot of respect for their work, and the negotiating team greatly appreciated their insight.

The meeting on February 14th will see the sharing of more details, and the FA will be releasing new Bargaining Bulletins over the coming weeks about all the items agreed to. At some point, there'll have to be a ratification vote to see whether the Faculty Association membership accepts the negotiated changes, too, but that's a worry for another day. For now, this is something to celebrate!

1 comment:

  1. It's taken twenty years to get them to agree it' a problem -- let's hope it doesn't take another twenty to do something about it.