There’s no excuse for the gender pay gap at Queen’s

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Recent data from Statistics Canada shows a pay gap between male and female professors across all but three Canadian universities. Queen’s in particular has an eight per cent difference in average salary.

While Queen’s is by no means the only university with a pay gap problem, and has a lower percentage compared to other schools like the University of Calgary and McMaster University, having a percent difference is a problem alone—and it’s one Queen’s needs to rectify.

OCAD University, Capilano University, and the University of the Fraser Valley prove it’s possible: all three are pay gap free. Queen’s needs to look to these institutions and figure out what they’re doing that it’s not. If three universities can bridge the gap, there’s no excuse why Queen’s can’t, too.

Queen’s has the third most highly paid professors in Canada. If it can afford these salaries, it can afford to close the gap and pay professors equally for doing the same job.

Principal Patrick Deane recently spoke about how “depressing” Queen’s global rankings are. If he and the University care so deeply about improving these rankings, closing the pay gap is a good way to start.

Besides, paying qualified professors the equal wages they deserve says a lot more about a university and its values than a simple ranking does.

In closing the pay gap, the University must also consider systemic issues at play. Women face barriers that might hinder them in the workplace, especially during the pandemic. Having dependents often disproportionately affects women in their professions, especially when flexibility is lacking in the workplace.

The unusual circumstances of COVID-19 have forced Queen’s to change the structure of its courses, proving flexibility is possible. The University has thrown out its playbook for how its work environment should be structured. In the future, it should continue to be creative about ways to accommodate its professors and help ease barriers women might be facing as staff eventually return to campus.

The University can also address inequities among its student body. Women don’t just face barriers in the workplace—they face them on campus, too. Ensuring female students have equal opportunities to their male counterparts across all faculties, no matter their circumstances, would help.

It’s 2020. There’s no excuse for gender pay gaps, especially at an institution like Queen’s. If it can afford to pay its professors, it can afford to pay them equally. Three Canadian universities have already done it; if Queen’s wants to improve itself, it should focus on equal salaries and let the rankings do the talking.

—Journal Editorial Board

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