The Highest-Paid Employees at Top Research Institutions? Not Women

Sarah McFarland

 A recent article from The Chronicle of Higher Education highlights gender inequalities in the higher education industry. A report by the American Association of University Women and the Eos Foundation found that women are significantly underrepresented among those who hold the 10 highest-paying jobs at the nation’s top research universities. The data was split into three groups: core employees (e.g. deans, faculty), medical-center employees, and athletics employees. Women composed only 24% of top earners in the core group, 12% in the medical-center group, and 7% in the athletics group. The gap is even larger for women of color. Among women who were in the highest paid positions at universities, 22.2% of them were white, 0.6% were Asian, 0.8% were Black, and 0.8% were Hispanic. Among the top earners at several top research universities, 0% were women. Despite women’s absence in these roles, the majority of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees are earned by women.

This article clearly highlights gender diversity issues in higher education, especially among women of color. The implications of the pandemic on women in academia makes this an even more concerning issue. Women are already less likely to achieve tenure than men, and mothers have reduced their hours far more than fathers have due to COVID-19. Women have been publishing less research than men due to these increased obligations (e.g. caregiving) that disproportionately fall onto women. Since many believe the pandemic triggered a “pink recession” with long-lasting impacts on women’s careers, this is a particularly worrisome trend.