Christina Vietinghoff
The Silhouette

Among the most highly paid at McMaster, men dominate. The No. 88 ranked university in the world presents an interesting example of the gendered wage gap amongst faculty and staff.

Pay equity seems to be a problem of the past. However, women earn on average 72 cents for every dollar by a man; a figure which doesn’t even account for the racial disparity in pay, considering black men earn less than white women, and Aboriginal women earn on average 34 cents on the dollar.

The provincial government created a pay equity commission to address the (gender) wage gap in 1987. Though this difference has decreased by 8 per cent, the problem persists.

McMaster is an interesting example of this income disparity. Of the 967 McMaster staff on the 2012 Sunshine List (the list published by the Ontario Government of all government employees that earn over $100,000), 637 of the 967 listed are male. 65 per cent of Mac’s top-paid staff are men. In the 25 highest earners at Mac, only six are women. So what does this mean? Based on the assumption people earn income according to their importance, it seems as though there are fewer women in the most important positions at McMaster.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers presents data that seems to indicate this wage gap amongst academics persists throughout other Canadian universities as well. Women have been achieving university degrees for decades, but why have they yet to be represented in the higher positions of our institutions?
It is difficult, if not impossible, to establish causality for these troubling statistics.

Some hypothesize maternity leave may interrupt the traditional “progress through the ranks” system. Others argue women are discriminated against in hiring practices. CAUT presents further data showing there continues to be a significant gap between the amount of men and women who are assigned tenure.

McMaster, like all institutions, still has a lot of room to improve gender equality. Until we start recognizing the gendered nature of our university and stop pretending that women have achieved equal status, nothing will change.

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