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UBC ensures pay equity with raise for female profs

All University of British Columbia all full-time, female-identified tenure and tenure-track professors are getting a raise to counteract gendered pay inequity.

The two per cent salary increase, retroactive to July 1, 2010, is part of a three-year process between the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the UBC Faculty Association (UBCFA) to solve pay inequity among full-time tenure-track faculty. The study did not look at pay inequity among UBC academic or administrative support staff.

Inspired by pay equity reports in 2007 and 2009 from UBC's Equity Office, the University and UBCFA created two separate working groups: the DATA Working Group for collecting data on pay equity and the SMART Working Group to devise solutions.

According to a joint message from UBCFA and UBC's two provosts sent to faculty today, the DATA Working Group's "analyses indicated that after accounting for the factors of under representation of females at the full professor level, experience, and differences in the gender balance across departments, a pay differential of 2% remained, that could only be explained by gender. This unexplained female pay disadvantage is considered a systemic discrimination issue."

About 38 per cent of tenure-track UBC faculty identify as female, but only 21 per cent of full professors, who earn higher salaries than assistant or associate professors, are female idenfitied.

UBCFA President Nancy Langton told The Tyee via email that two per cent, or about $3,000, is an average pay gap and the salary increase won't fix all salary inequity.

"It is actually quite difficult to calculate individual differences, given small sample sizes in most cases," she wrote.

"The two percent takes a systemic approach. It will not resolve all salary differences, and it will likely not make all salaries equal."

According to Rachel Kuske, senior advisor to the UBC Provost on Women Faculty, the University is still calculating how much this increase will cost them.

Langton says the University went through a similar process in 1985, and reports from both working groups indicate the experience of 17 other North American universities with ensuring pay equity were considered in this process.

The SMART Working Group has laid out several strategies to ensure pay equity continues, and the University is a comfortable working environment for women in general. According to the email sent to UBC faculty today, these include:

"Starting salaries: ensuring that differences are not due to unconscious bias or other discriminatory practices.

Equity Training: increasing awareness of discriminatory practices or unconscious bias and developing tools and safeguards.

Mentoring: increasing opportunities for connections, peer coaching and facilitation of career advancement.

Working Climate: establishing a mechanism to identify and explore possible areas where the working climate may be an issue for women.

Monitoring: establishing mechanisms for periodic audits of pay equity and best practice implementation."

Back pay and salary readjustments will take place by February 28.

Katie Hyslop reports on education and youth issues for The Tyee. Follow her on Twitter .

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