Working to shatter the glass ceiling

Riley Beckwith and Molly Wierman, Staff Writer and News Editor

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Faculty and administration have been grappling with the alleged pay gap between men and women at the university. Photo by Elizabeth Kerin.

The University of Dallas is beginning to address gender-related salary and environment issues throughout campus in response to the recent publication of a report from a presidential commission formed last year.

The Faculty Compensation Committee recognized disparities between pay for men and pay for women as early as 2008-2010, when Dr. Charles Sullivan of the history department served as chair.

Sullivan said that the committee focused more on low salaries for all professors during his time as chair, since its task was to address all salaries with no specific mandate to address pay disparities.

“[Paying women less is] morally reprehensible, but the more serious issue was working with the Board of Trustees on all salaries,” Sullivan said.

He then emphasized his desire to address the issue of lower pay for women.

“It’s appalling … I think gender inequality is more serious at a Catholic university than full professor salaries,” Sullivan said.

The issue of gender discrimination at UD continued to simmer until Apr. 2014.

The University News obtained the equivalent of 38 pages of emails from faculty members and the administration after the mid-April discussion of the pay gap and the environment toward women.

The emails began with a message from Dr. Ruth May, professor in the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business and one of four female full professors at the time, drawing attention to the 2013-2014 American Association of University Professors (AAUP) data regarding the university.

The data ranked UD as the worst school in Texas for gender equality in pay for full professors as compared to similar schools, with female full professors at UD making 82.6 percent of their male colleagues’ salaries.

Nationwide, out of 1,157 schools that reported data, only 21 had worse records on gender equality for full professors.

Only eight Texas master’s institutions had greater inequalities for associate professors, though only one school had a stronger record for female versus male pay for instructors at the assistant professor level.

“I have grown weary of asking my dean to advocate for me … but I am not too weary to advocate for women at the rank of Assistant and Associate Professor who will continue to silently bear the burden of pay discrimination unless we as a united faculty stand up and say ‘enough,’ ” May said in her email.

Many, but not all, agreed with the data she presented and her efforts to address salary disparities at the university.

Chief financial officer (CFO) and vice president, Dr. Brian Murray, said that the data May referenced were misleading.

His own statistical analyses did not support the existence of university-wide gender-based pay differences.

“I conducted a regression analysis on faculty pay for all tenured/tenure-track faculty controlling for rank, discipline … and gender,” Murray said in an email. “The results of the analysis did not yield a significant variation attributable to gender.”

Murray said instead that some salary disparities exist because of discrepancies in performance and seniority.

“Do I believe a specific decision was made to change or determine someone’s pay specifically because of their gender?” Murray said in an email. “Absolutely not in any case of which I am aware.”

Finally, Murray pointed to the faculty themselves as the reason UD had so few female full professors and fewer women in general.

“Faculty hiring has been grounded in a faculty search committee process,” Murray said in an email. “It’s a cop out for us as faculty members to blame anyone but ourselves if we are not supporting our female colleagues in their progression toward full professor.”

Others addressed the role of the administration in hiring procedures, salary decisions and the overall university climate in dissuading women from working at UD.

“Deans, provosts and presidents do participate and control faculty hires, and they certainly set all salaries and pay raises,” Dr. Sally Hicks of the Physics department wrote in an email. “Furthermore, administrators have a responsibility to oversee the environment in which we work.”

Other faculty members sent emails noting a discriminatory environment toward women at the university and referenced previous members of the administration and faculty who left UD due to the uncomfortable climate.

University President, Thomas Keefe, noted that the workplace environment on campus merited his attention.

“It’s more than money,” Keefe said. “The environment and a number of issues … were worthy of having an honest discussion.”

To that end, Keefe established the Presidential Commission on Workplace Fairness, Equity and Respect in May 2014, a month after May sent her first email.

The commission included the following members from across the university’s four schools: Hicks, Interim Dean Dr. Marcy Brown Marsden, Dr. Bainard Cowan, Dr. Diana Dudoit Raiche, Dr. Jacob-Ivan Eidt, Dr. Blake Frank, Dr. Barbara Khirallah, and Dr. Rosemary Maellaro.

Keefe appointed Dean of University Libraries and Research Cherie Hohertz as chair.

Murray’s office provided the commission with pay data to analyze, but the administration had little involvement with the commission thereafter.

The commission investigated the following four areas of concern: recruitment and retention of women in tenured and tenure-track positions, representation of women in leadership roles, equal pay for women, and the work environment at the university.

Hohertz said that the commission’s work took inspiration from the principles of Catholic social teaching.

“We’ve got to respect the human person and [the laborer’s] work, no matter what,” Hohertz said.

The commission first hired an external consultant to analyze university-wide faculty pay.

His analysis found that the only predictors of salary at UD were College and University Professional Association (CUPA) averages and prior administrator status.

Keefe accepted the consultant’s report but not the commission’s compensation analysis, which was presented to him and Murray in Feb. 2015 and published in May with the rest of the commission’s final report.

“I believe the consultant’s analysis is true,” Keefe said. “The commission certainly did not convince me that there is a disparity in pay. They simply looked at it from a different angle … It’s not that women are paid less but that both men and women are [not paid enough.]”

The commission acknowledged the importance of the consultant’s work but decided to investigate further for their final report.

“We’re thankful for the consultant’s work,” Hohertz said. “We didn’t think he broke things down far enough, so we took the data and broke it down by school.”

The commission’s compensation analysis, which examined salary disparities that could be attributed to no variables other than gender, found that the average woman at UD makes $2,857 less than the average man.

They also found that, on average, 14.7 percent of university administrators have been female between 1999-2000 and 2014-2015, as compared to the national average of 44.6 percent.

11 percent of exit survey respondents cited gender discrimination as among their reasons for leaving the university, according to the commission’s final report.

Several respondents referenced inappropriate comments toward women, feelings of women being left out of activities within their departments and lack of advancement opportunities for women.

May expressed her concern regarding the commission’s findings.

“It was a tough read for a woman,” May said. “It’s one thing to be aware of problems but another to see them in color with charts and graphs.”

Murray noted that the commission’s report covered more topics than the initial question of gender-based pay disparities.

“They asked several questions,” Murray said. “[Pay] is just one little question in the whole world of workplace, and equity has to do with more than just that one little question, and so [the commission] was important. Every organization should study whether they’re doing a good job or not.”

Keefe did agree with the commission’s findings regarding the need for more women in leadership roles, and he has acted on their recommendations.

Subsequent initiatives he has taken include issuing a regular climate survey and working toward salary raises for all faculty.

A climate committee has been formed to monitor the workplace environment at the university. A tentative list of members of the half-faculty, half-staff committee, which held an orientation meeting Oct. 2, includes Associate Dean of Constantin College Dr. Scott Crider, Director of Career Services Julie Janik and Assistant Professor of philosophy Dr. Chad Engelland.

Murray addressed the human and ethical feelings that the climate committee must consider if the university is to reverse this problem.

“Our workplace climate philosophy is ‘advancing human dignity at work’ … based on two documents from the Church, one called ‘Laborum Exercens’ and one called ‘Centesimus Annus,’ “ Murray said. “The Church believes in the preservation and advancement of human dignity. Core and central to human dignity is work, so our climate should be … advancing human dignity and respect for each person.”

Murray added that this philosophy implicitly addresses a wide variety of equity issues, aside from gender.

Hohertz noted the importance of focusing on the efforts of the administration following the commission and initial discussion amongst the faculty.

“Keep in mind that the findings did show some issues, but not a single one can’t be solved,” Hohertz said. “The administration is working hard to resolve these problems … I hope the faculty sees progress.”

Hicks also said that students can help the administration and faculty in their tasks of hiring more women and promoting a healthy work environment.

“Students participate in hiring,” Hicks said, adding that the student body is mostly female, which makes female candidates more comfortable on campus. “You have a voice.”

Above all, Hicks said, she wants the university to hire more women and promote female faculty to higher positions.

“There will be no change until women are at the big table,” Hicks said.

One final concern remains regarding the university’s decision not to report 2014-2015 salary data to the AAUP, as a recent article published in the Dallas Observer noted.

Hohertz said that the commission recommended that the university report this data to the AAUP. Sullivan agreed with this recommendation.

Murray, however, stated that he did not report AAUP data because of deadlines and because his offices were verifying data.

“I wanted to make sure our data was good … and that’s what we’re reporting to the faculty center now,” he said. “In lieu of [reporting to the AAUP] we provided and are still providing more detailed compensation data than is ever reported to AAUP.”

Murray said the university would likely resume reporting data to the AAUP in subsequent years.

The university is only required to report data to the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPED), although most universities also report data to the AAUP.

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