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U of M women take longer to reach full professor: report

Winnipeg Free Press with Tammy Schirle 19 July 2019

Female faculty members at the University of Manitoba wait more than a year than longer their male counterparts, on average, for promotion to full professorship, a new report says.

However, gender pay differences aren’t systemic as they are at other Canadian universities, says a report led by Wilfrid Laurier economics Prof. Tammy Schirle — the first time the U of M has examined the issue since 1993.

“Why do women take 18 months longer?” said Susan Prentice, a sociology professor who was the University of Manitoba Faculty Association co-chair on the study. “When you find that women are taking longer to get to the rank of full, and are less likely to get to the rank of full, you go upstream to see what’s happening in careers — especially in some disciplines where women are more likely to be disadvantaged.”

Among those who have been a member of the faculty association for 12 years or more, women are 15.5 per cent less likely than men to hold the rank of full professor.

“There’s a lot of evidence in the literature about higher education to suggest that men and women often have different kinds of workloads,” Prentice said.

Schirle agreed, noting promotion to full professor — which comes with a raise — can be largely based on research output.

“When you’re a professor, it’s really easy to get sidetracked with all sorts of committee work, taking on extra students and doing mentoring. And while that’s all very valuable to the university, it goes completely unrewarded,” Schirle said.

The gender wage gap is greatest at the Bannatyne campus — which includes faculties of medicine, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy.

Close to 10 per cent of U of M’s teaching staff are instructors, and Schirle’s report found a wage gap there, but said further study is needed.

Prentice and others recommend looking at wages every year and providing a written report every five years. After the last study, in 1993, female faculty members had their salaries adjusted by 2.8 per cent.

Vice-provost (academic affairs) Diane Hiebert-Murphy said the review is important and the results, though encouraging, show areas that need further study. She said the university hasn’t yet made a plan of how regularly to do this kind of review.

In recent years, many Canadian universities have done similar studies. The University of Toronto raised all female tenure-track salaries by 1.3 per cent in April after finding a wage gap.

Schirle said she was involved in a similar study at Wilfrid Laurier that led to a three per cent increase in salaries for female associate professors and 3.9 per cent for female full professors at the Waterloo, Ont.-based school.

“You don’t find the big wage gaps that are at other universities” at U of M, Schirle said. She suggested the collective agreement helped prevent systematic effects.

“It’s a challenging thing… because you’re really being tasked with measuring that which is unobservable. You can’t see what someone would have earned had they been a different gender. So it’s challenging to do, but I think it’s something most organizations would want to do proactively.”