Female professors deserve better

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Actions speak louder than words. And the lack of action on wage inequity speaks volumes.

Gender inequity is a problem across many Canadian universities and in the Canadian workforce in general.

Although Queen’s has made strides to address the lack of diversity within faculties, women remain underrepresented in higher professorial positions and are largely absent from higher-paid faculties.

There are many factors that contribute to this reality. For one, structural barriers prevent women from being promoted, entering high-paying disciplines or conducting research.

There’s also a distinct disparity between disciplines that women do or do not enter. As a result, there aren’t enough female candidates to draw from to fill underrepresented faculties.

But we’ve already established that we have a problem. It’s time for the next step.

In the long term, there’s work to be done to encourage people from diverse backgrounds to enter disciplines where they’re underrepresented, so there will be enough candidates in the future to draw from.  

In the meantime, we need to address the existing inequalities. To do this, we need more concrete and specific data on where underrepresented groups are falling through the cracks.

Queen’s releases some data, but it’s only general representation rates. There’s no way to find out how much female professors make compared to their male colleagues — unless they make over $100,000 and are on the Sunshine List.

As a result, we don’t have a clear picture of how underrepresentation is really affecting female professors and contributing to a wage gap.

We need transparent data. Not just general representation rates, but faculty-by-faculty breakdowns. Not just how many women there are at each rank, but how many women are promoted, why some aren’t and how this affects pay raises.

Most importantly, how much are female professors really paid compared to their male colleagues?

We don’t need more rhetoric about updated policies that continually fails to provide concrete facts or objectives.

The only people who are really capable of doing this are senior University administrators.

Queen’s has made progress in representation at the undergraduate level. The School of Computing and the Faculty of Engineering have both made successful efforts to recruit more women into their programs.

There are models for achieving equity that are working, and these need to be applied on a broader scale.  

One way to ensure that gender inequity is at the forefront of the administration’s priorities could be to put equity policies in place at higher levels of decision-making. The Board of Trustees itself — one of Queen’s three governing bodies — lacks representation from many different underrepresented groups.

It isn’t asking much for an employer to provide equal pay for equal work.

But our administration is often reactive instead of proactive and changes are often made in the wake of criticism.

Here’s a chance to get ahead of the curve. 

Journal Editorial Board 

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