OPINION: If UA pays women less, why hire men at all?
Last week, the Daily Wildcat’s cover story revealed to readers systematic gender-based pay discrimination at the University of Arizona. I was shocked! At a university that boasts its business school, I couldn’t understand why the university would hire men at all, if it could hire women at a lower price. In order to make the most of its money, the university should transition to hiring only female deans.
Between the years of 2016 and 2017, at UA the average female dean was paid $269,000, while the average male dean was paid almost $60,000 more, at $326,256, according to the Daily Wildcat’s salary database. Yet, in the same time period, the university employed 11 male deans and only three female deans.
This makes no sense — the UA is acting like those (in my opinion, irrational) consumers who buy name-brand orange juice, when the store brand is half the price, but tastes just as good. If a male or female dean is hired to do the same job, why would the university generally choose to pay more to get the same work done?
I would understand if female deans’ work is more than $60,000 less valuable than a man’s. The university should say so then. I would bet all the money in my wallet (two dollars) that it’s not the case.
According to a piece published in the Journal of Research in Education, female deans have higher resilience, or a better ability to operate in a changing environment while maintaining their effectiveness than men, on average. Another study further shows an unfounded bias against women in academia. An economist working for Sciences Po, a university in Paris, found that across a wide range of studies, female professors were given lower ratings in their teacher course evaluations, even though on average, students of female teachers did better on the standardized finals. So, it’s likely that our female deans are as good, if not better than our male deans.
The university is missing out on more than $450,000 worth of savings every year by employing over-priced male deans. It could redistribute that money as scholarships, or pay to improve some of the technology infrastructure, or it could pay for about 1/5 of our new football coach for a year, or even for a whole female football coach! (I got ahead of myself—the university doesn’t even prefer the store-brand orange juice; there’s no way it’s going to get the organic orange-guava).
Last, this doesn’t only free up some financial assets, but it would solve this legal mess that the university is in right now. If the UA only hired women at the female dean price, and a man really wanted to be a dean, then the man would (forgive another grocery store analogy) have to act like Wal-Mart and price-match. Then, there’d be no gender-pay gap at all and, the UA would get deans for an ‘everyday low price’!
The above opinion (obviously) should be taken in jest.
However, truths can be found in it. One is that the gender-pay gap at this university sends an important message to female students: for some reason, our effort will be inherently less valuable to an organization than a man’s. The university should not be sending this message to its students, because it undermines the aspirations of its female students. Former Honors Dean Patricia MacCorquodale is suing the university over this issue. I’m grateful for people like her coming before me to make the world I enter a fairer game.
Female deans at the UA should not be treated like a generic brand of juice—the same work and same qualifications should merit the same pay. Their contents can’t be taken for a discount because the outside container looks a bit different.
The university may have non-gender reasons for this pay gap. If so, I hope that the university would share so that female students will not be stuck with the reality that their university believes their work doesn’t deserve equal compensation, even though it has the nerve to take their money and time at the same rate.
Toni Marcheva is a sophomore who is less sarcastic in real-life than she can be on paper. Follow Daily Wildcat on Twitter