Gender pay gap analysis shows men have higher salaries, higher-ranking positions at UK

Patrick Brennan

On average, men have higher salaries than women at UK, and this pay gap is not due just to placement in the university.

A data analysis conducted by the Kentucky Kernel on the 2015 UK Payroll, obtained through an open records request, found statistically significant trends related to gender. Not only do women make less on average, but adjusting for department, position, time, and UK HealthCare connection still left full-time female faculty making 92.5 cents for every $1 that men make.

Without controlling for anything, there are disparities among faculty, which includes full professors, associate professors, assistant professors, lecturers and instructors. On average, for every $1 that male faculty earn at UK, female faculty make 74 cents.

The real driver of the higher overall average for male faculty is the disproportionate number of men in high-ranking positions. About 77 percent of faculty professors at UK are men.

Associate Provost for Finance and Operations Lisa Wilson said UK is aware of a gender representation issue and is working to fix it.

“The Strategic Plan talks about how we’re going to increase women in the field at the university,” Wilson said.

For full professors, associate professors and assistant professors at UK, women make 92, 82, and 81 cents on the dollar, respectively. That compares to national numbers of 90, 93, and 91 cents on the dollar for these same positions, according to a 2014 study by The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

Wilson said UK focuses on pay equity rather than the pay gap between male and female faculty because of position.

“We take being equitable among our faculty very seriously,” she said.

The Kernel’s regression-analysis model was created with supervision from Kristen McQuerry, project manager of UK’s Applied Statistics Laboratory.

“I’m confident that if I were to look at (the same data), I would see a gender effect too,” said Arnold Stromberg, chair of the statistics department. “It’s pretty clear that in the data that you have, there is a gender effect.”

On the other hand, Wilson said UK has hired the Berkeley Research Group in recent years to study the payroll, and the company reported that UK salaries do not reflect a gender pay gap.

“The gap was statistically insignificant,” Wilson said. “We were incredibly pleased when that data came back that we are doing what we say we’re doing.”

The Berkeley Research Group had more information about faculty to adjust for. This may account for the different result. According to Wilson and UK spokesman Jay Blanton, the Berkeley Research Group also used at least two other determinants for salary: productivity and individual market value. Productivity is measured by publications and grants, while market value is determined by subspecialty and gender availability.

This means that given male and female UK faculty in the same position for the same amount of time, a pay gap is likely explained by productivity and market value. By the university’s standard, there is no faculty gender pay gap.

Regardless, other notable results appeared in the data analysis. Female faculty had a statistically significant increase for their gender in wage compared to time, meaning female salaries increase at a faster rate than male salaries.

Additionally, a campus-wide analysis of the entire UK payroll, grouping departments and positions, showed that the variation between salaries for men and women is less prominent in UK HealthCare. Men make about 3.5 percent more than women in UKHC, compared to 7 percent more on the non-UKHC side.

Although UK says its own studies indicate equal pay between male and female employees, this study did not find enough controls to make the gender pay gap disappear. Gender still makes a difference despite the same position and time at the university.