October 30, 2012,
Volume 59, No. 10
Gender Equity for Staff?
Following the October 16 Presidential debates and now notorious “binders of women” response from candidate Romney in reply to a question about pay equity for male and female workers, there is a renewed discussion of pay equity in the United States and here too on Penn’s campus. I am writing to inquire about differences in pay between male and female staff at the University.
I acknowledge that President Amy Gutmann fares well compared to her fellow college presidents at peer institutions, earning one of the top three salaries among Ivy League presidents of both genders. (For this, I congratulate her on a salary both well paid and well earned.)
Additionally, there is public data available about faculty pay across gender lines at the University as printed in this publication (‘Executive Summary of the Economic Status of the Faculty 2010-2011 Report’ February 28, 2012, Volume 58, No. 24” www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v58/n24/esf.html#t12).
The most recent data show that female faculty at Penn lag behind their male counterparts at almost every faculty rank; nonetheless, even the biggest gap (13.5%) is smaller than the national average for full-time working women in America who earned only 82% of men’s median salaries in 2011 (www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/04/focus-3).
I further acknowledge that Penn is often recognized for supporting worklife balance, for which I am grateful; but how does the University rate for pay equity across staff lines? As the largest private employer in Philadelphia with more than 25,000 employees in the University and Health System, this seems an important issue not only for women on campus, but for women working in our region. Although I expect my female colleagues in the Health System would be interested in how they match up, I am specifically inquiring about female and male staff pay at the University of Pennsylvania. On the University side, staff positions have job classes, so a most basic measure of how men and women are paid within their job class for equal years of service should be easy enough to report.
A harder question to answer, but a no less important one, is how do women compare to men at Penn for grade level classification with equal qualifications?
The fact that the University has not published this information previously leads me to expect that staff pay equity across gender is not something about which the University can brag. Nonetheless, the women who work at Penn have a right to know. We can’t know what to strive towards if we don’t know where we stand.
I respectfully ask that University leadership please share the data on how female and male staff salaries compare at the University of Pennsylvania.
—Heather Calvert, Associate Director,
Commitment to Gender Equity
Your letter to Almanac provides the opportunity to discuss the University’s commitment to pay equity for staff members. Penn recognizes that equitable and competitive compensation is vital to recruiting and retaining a highly qualified and diverse workforce. The University demonstrates its commitment through its ongoing monitoring of salary setting and compensation for new and existing staff. Penn has maintained a competitive staff pay program by awarding annual merit increases for the past several years that were both higher than average for peer Ivy institutions, and competitive in the local and national markets.
Your specific question relates to how compensation for female staff members compares to that of male staff members. A review of University pay reveals that women are paid equitably with their male counterparts in a majority of job titles and grades. A more detailed analysis by both job grade and educational level also shows pay equity by gender in the grade-by-education classifications. A review of the annual merit increase averages for the past decade shows that female staff received equal or higher performance-based merit increases than male staff members did.
The University commissioned an independent third party to conduct a review of pay equity. The findings reinforce the conclusion that female staff are in a strong economic position. The review indicates that Penn’s female employees are paid equitably in all schools and centers. Taking into account individual attributes, organizational factors, and external influences, there are no discernible pay disparities among staff. Women have a stronger record of advancement and receive higher performance ratings, resulting in higher merit increases, than their male counterparts. Women are paid well relative to men in high profile positions at Penn.
I appreciate your recognition of the University’s efforts supporting work-life balance. Your statement indicates an understanding that total compensation includes both wages and benefits. Penn’s comprehensive total compensation package includes competitive salaries as well as generous health, tuition, retirement, career development, wellness, work-life balance, and other benefits. Our wide variety of benefits allows us to attract, retain, and reward the diverse workforce that makes up the University community.
Director of Compensation
Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday’s issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. —Eds.