Professor Giving a Lecture
Men outnumber women two to one among full professors. FatCamera—Getty Images

The Gender Pay Gap in Academia Is Getting Worse

Mar 23, 2017

The gender gap is going strong in the nation’s top academic and artistic institutions, according to two new studies on the representation of women among professors and museum directors.

Pay gaps widened or remained stable in academia, where men outnumber women two to one among full professors, but women make up the majority of assistant professors, lecturers, and instructors.

A Chronicle of Higher Education survey of 4,500 colleges found that the average 9-month salary across all academic ranks was $77,604 in 2015. Full professors earned an average of $111,000, while assistant professors earned about $67,466.

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While women’s salaries grew at a higher rate of 3.1%, men’s salaries were already considerably higher than women’s—in 2014, male full professors earned $113,766, while women in the same posts earned $95,692. So despite a lower growth rate of 2.8% in 2016, male professors increased their pay more in total dollars than their female counterparts.

The expanding pay gap was most pronounced at four-year nonprofit colleges, where male professors earn an average of $18,200 more than their female peers. In 2014, that disparity was $500 less.

In a separate survey of over 200 museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors found that women are considerably underrepresented among the nation’s top twenty artistic institutions. Only one of the thirteen major U.S. art museums is run by a woman; in museums with budgets of $15 million or higher, only 30% of directors are women. Women who do secure top jobs are paid 75 cents for every dollar their male peers earn, a pay gap 5% larger than the national average.

As is the case in academia, women are better represented in the middle and lower tiers of the art profession. Women direct 54% of small and midsize museums, and make just 2% less than men in the same positions—“female representation decreases as budget size increases,” the study found.

Women in top curatorial positions hope to see a woman break the “ultimate glass ceiling” by being appointed director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose current director Thomas P. Campbell will step down on June 30. The museum has not yet formed a search committee, according to The New York Times.

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