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Statistics Canada finds average salary for women teaching staff at U of T roughly $20,000 less than men

Faculty association pushes for more thorough analysis of gender bias in compensation structures
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FIONA TUNG/THE VARSITY
FIONA TUNG/THE VARSITY

Statistics Canada recently updated its statistics on teaching staff salaries for the 2019–2020 school year, revealing a continued discrepancy between the average salaries of women and men full-time teaching faculty at U of T of about $20,000.

Overall, women’s median and average salaries were lower than men’s. The average salary for women in 2019–2020 was $164,250, a figure that is $20,800 lower than the men’s average of $185,050. U of T has 1,113 women teaching staff, 1,656 men teaching staff, and nine staff of unknown gender or other.

The 90th percentile of salary for women was $219,800 and the 90th percentile for men was $254,400, a difference of $34,600. At the 10th percentile, men’s average was approximately $10,000 more than the women’s average.

U of T’s report and response

In April 2019, the university released the Report of the Provostial Advisory Group on Faculty Gender Pay Equity following two years of analysis. The study examined pay equity for full-time tenure stream faculty and teaching stream faculty. It did not include an analysis of pay inequity for part-time faculty, faculty on contractually limited term appointments, and librarians.

The university found that the gender pay gap was around 1.3 per cent for men and women in comparable positions in the tenure stream in June 2019, while controlling for rank, years of experience, and field of study. Without controlling for these factors, the raw average difference was 12 per cent. The administration found no significant difference in the pay of men and women in the teaching stream.

The report noted that this is because, on average, women in the tenure stream have fewer years of experience and work in lower paying fields of study. They also tend to be in more junior faculty positions than men.

However, in an email to The Varsity, Terezia Zoric, President of the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UFTA), argued that the university’s methodology was flawed and had the effect of “explaining away” factors of the pay gap rather than acknowledging the gender bias that is more deeply rooted within those factors.

“Many of these factors… have themselves been proven to be tainted by gender bias,” she wrote. “If men are more likely to be promoted, then any gender bias in the promotion process will be explained away when rank is controlled for.”

In 2019, there were 735 men tenure stream professors, with only 287 women and one person of another gender in the same position. The gender imbalance is much less for men and women in lower ranked faculty positions, such as associate and assistant professors.

In an email to The Varsity, Heather Boon, Vice-Provost Faculty & Academic Life, wrote that the university is “committed to excellence” and that part of that includes “ensuring [its] faculty members’ salaries are fair and equitable.”

Moreover, Boon pointed out that the university has taken other steps to ensure gender equity, including hiring more women in the tenure stream, balancing starting salaries, and providing unconscious bias training.

UFTA’s report

In an open letter from April 2019, the UFTA presented its own study, which combined quantitative and qualitative factors and found that the pay gap ranges from 2.7 to 8.6 per cent, more than double the university’s 1.3 per cent figure. The letter also calls for more thorough analysis on the pay gap for the teaching stream, part-time faculty, contractually limited term appointments, and librarians.

The UFTA has found gender bias in the determinants of salary, such as the setting of starting salaries and the promotion process. According to Zoric, U of T’s hiring process uses more discretion than most, which is a reason why the university should cooperate with the UFTA to create a more equitable compensation structure.

The UFTA has also been pushing for U of T to release more data so it can analyze the impact of the pay gap on Indigenous, Black, and other racialized women.