Taking Notes: Eye on Education – Gender Disparity and Professors

Taking Notes: Eye on Education – Gender Disparity and Professors

This column focuses on a wide range of issues affecting post-secondary students. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about. If suggest a topic or a course alert for taking notes, contact djabbour@ausu.org


A Statistics Canada report has revealed that significant gender disparity exists between salaries of male and female university professors. During 2003-2004, out of 29 Canadian universities reporting, male university professors earned up to $17,300 more on average than female professors. The University of Calgary had the largest gender wage gap, but other universities, including University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, University of Western Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier, Carleton, and Dalhousie University, reported average salary differences of more than $14,000. The University of Alberta reported a difference of $12,300. The smallest wage gap was at Ryerson, where female professors earned an average of $5,400 less than their male colleagues.

The University of Calgary argued away the difference as being a reflection of the age of the institution. According to U of C VP Finance, the university is “38 years old, and many have been here for 30-35 years, hired at a time when those hired in academic were males instead of females.”

The Canadian Association of University Teachers, on the other hand, takes these statistics as evidence of enduring systematic discrimination against females. Women continue to be underrepresented in the highest ranks of academia, with a male-female ratio of 85.9 to 15.1 amongst the highest-paid full professor rank. Further evidence of this gap can be seen in the federal government’s Canada Research Chairs program. Since its inception in 2000, 1,164 of the 2000 elite high-salaried positions have been filled – 960 by men.

Given that male academics tend to be older and at higher pay scales, some believe that the gap will narrow as more women rise to senior positions. The issue, however, is rooted in far more complex gender disparities, since females face other difficulties in achieving equality in every employment area. It might be expected that universities, as bastions of free speech and progressive thinking, would lead the way in achieving change – but this does not appear to be the case.

Source: Female professors lag men in salaries. Edmonton Journal, July 17, 2004, CanWest News Service

Read the Stats Can report: http://www.statcan.ca:8096/bsolc/english/bsolc?catno=81-595-M2004019