UK should close gender pay gap

Illustration by Ben Wade

Editorial Staff

Gender-based pay gaps are thorns that splinter the search for equality, and according to recent findings, these thorns are even found on UK’s campus. 

On average, women across the country are paid 79 cents to every $1 that men earn. Just when society thought patriarchy was dying, it can be found alive and well at UK. 

According to a data analysis conducted by the Kentucky Kernel, women earn about 69 cents on the dollar compared to men at UK, on average. Adjusting for department, position, time and UK HealthCare connection, full-time female faculty still make only 92.5 cents on the dollar compared to full-time male faculty.

“I wasn’t familiar with UK’s, but I know that nationwide we certainly have a gender pay gap,” said Robyn Lewis Brown, assistant sociology professor at UK. “That is an important issue that needs to be addressed more.”

The gender pay gap is also present across the state of Kentucky. According to a 2014 report by the American Association of University Women, Kentucky men earned a median of $42,425 while Kentucky women earned a median of $32,951 — a ratio of just 78 percent.

“The National Women’s Law Center put out some statistics just fairly recently to show that to make what men make in 40 years, women have to work for 51 years,” Brown said. “That’s an 11 years difference, and I think that statistics like that are much more powerful than statistics that show what it means in terms of a dollar.”

While Lexington is typically more progressive than other cities in Kentucky, UK, one of the main employers in Fayette County, is still paying women less than their male counterparts. 

However, the pay gap may be closing. The 2013 AAUW report showed that women in Kentucky made just 76 percent of men’s earnings — 2 percent less than 2014. At UK, female faculty are getting higher pay at a faster rate than men, according to the data analysis.

To be fair, UK says it pays equitably, and taking into account productivity and individual market value makes the gap disappear.

Kentuckians need to push for equal pay among men and women in the same positions, regardless of these other determinants for pay equity.

“I think that one thing the university does, which is very positive, is making publicly available all professors’ salaries. I think in part that is helpful for women because one of the challenges also is that we often don’t know what to ask for,” Brown said. “I think that that is helpful and it also creates a discussion on: ‘If I am not going to be equally compensated, then why not?’”

UK should lead the push for equal pay. Especially as a place of higher education, UK should not succumb to old habits and prejudices.

As one of the state’s largest employers, UK should step up and pay their female employees the same as men for the same job.

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