Campus poised to act on salary gaps for women, minority faculty

The gaps aren’t large, nor are the causes clear. But the campus is already planning to act on new findings that average salaries for women and minority-group faculty at UC Berkeley lag behind those for white men in similar fields, and with comparable professional experience.


Janet Broughton, vice provost for faculty (UC Berkeley photo by Steve McConnell)

A just-released study shows that average salaries for underrepresented minority faculty members trail those of their white male counterparts by 1 to 1.8 percent. Gaps between women and white males were slightly larger, with a range between 1.8 and 4.3 percent.

The report calls for further research to investigate reasons for the differences — which it notes could result from a mix of factors — and lays out measures to make salaries more equitable for all Berkeley ladder faculty.

A key recommendation is to create a new “targeted decoupling initiative” to provide salary increases for faculty beyond what ordinary advancement in rank and step allows. The findings of the study would provide important data to help build the new salary program.

Claude Steele, Berkeley’s executive vice chancellor and provost, and Janet Broughton, vice provost for faculty, both indicated their intention to move quickly to implement all the recommendations in the report.

“Anything about equity for our faculty feels like an urgent issue to me — not because the study stands out in the national landscape, but because I want all our wonderful Berkeley faculty members to be supported and rewarded the way that they should be,” said Broughton, chair of the joint administration-Academic Senate steering committee that conducted the study.

“The big news here,” added Broughton, “is we now have lots of knowledge that we didn’t have before.”

In a CalMessage sent to faculty Monday evening, Broughton wrote that the steering committee “hopes that this study will mark the beginning of a new era of thoughtful engagement with issues of faculty salary equity at Berkeley, and that it will serve as a basis for fostering sustained and collective discussion and action.”

That was a message echoed by Steele and David Card, a UC Berkeley labor economist who served on the study steering committee.

“From the standpoint of fairness in the workplace, the most important thing is to keep an eye on the existence and size of these differences, and to do everything we can to reduce them,” said Steele, a social psychologist known for his research into the effects of negative stereotypes on the performance of minority-group members.

Card praised the work of steering committee member Marc Goulden, director of data initiatives for the Office of the Vice Provost for the Faculty, in ensuring the study included salaries for 100 percent of Berkeley’s ladder faculty members, which he said resulted in “extremely good data” and “a very carefully reasoned report.”

“I personally hope we will have a report like this every year,” Card said, “just as a matter of practice.”

Broughton said she now plans to reach out to faculty, deans and department chairs across the campus to talk about the results of the study and get their ideas about the best ways to implement the report’s recommendations.

“Not every factor that we discuss [in the report] is under the control of the campus to address directly,” she said. “But in addition to creating a new salary initiative, what we can do is work really hard to build departmental communities that are fully supportive of all faculty, and attentive to the ways in which some colleagues may be left out of the networks that can help people plug into grant opportunities and other important resources. We can work to help everyone share in leadership opportunities, and to be sure that teaching assignments and service loads are equitable.

“Faculty, chairs, deans and central administrators all mean very, very well — there’s no question in my mind about that,” Broughton said. “But sometimes you just have to step back and say, aha, we can see we have more work to do to make our faculty culture as fully inclusive and supportive as possible.”