Although university administrations across the board may have the same written standards and guidelines for all faculty and staff members regardless of sex, the reality is that women working in universities are simply not viewed the same way as males.
According to the American Association of University Professors, “Salaries for women full-time faculty members continue to lag behind those paid to men.” Their study of the 2018-19 academic year found that, on average, women were paid less than 82% of the salaries of men.
Some attempt to defend this figure, stating that women tend to choose disciplines that pay less than those chosen by their male colleagues. At first glance, this may seem to be a logical explanation to the large disparity in income, but further examination suggests otherwise.
According to a 2018 study by Chronicle Data of 4-year private universities, the departments of psychology, sociology, earth sciences and applied sciences, the average salary of full-time professors sat between $101,000 and $107,000. However, in the largely male-dominated field of engineering, the study found that, on average, full-time professors were paid over $175,000. In the English department, a field in which females are far more prominent, the average income of a full-time professor was $84,000.
As the study seems to show, men do gravitate toward fields that offer significantly higher incomes. Or, is it possible that the inverse is true? Is it possible that the reason engineering professors are paid significantly more is because they are male?
The discrimination against female professors is doubled by the disproportionate disrespect shown to them by students.
According to Inside Higher Education, “Students hold female instructors to a different standard than they do male faculty members, especially when it comes to personality. Women are expected to be more nurturing and are perceived harshly when they’re not.”
This is reflected by the nature of reviews on
RateMyProfessors.com, a website for college students to critique and comment on the performance of their instructors. On this website, there is a disparity between the words used to describe female instructors and male instructors.
Students describe their female professors as “terrible,” “ugly,” “bossy” and “annoying” significantly more than their male counterparts. Could it be that these students expect all women to reflect the lenient, motherly stereotype of a female teacher?
Whether by students or administration, female professors are treated differently than their colleagues.