Male LSU faculty earn substantially more — $20,000 to $30,000 in some cases depending on the college where they work — than females of the same rank, according to the early findings of a study that compares salaries of the flagship’s nearly 1,300 faculty members.
Christine Cheng, an assistant accounting professor who analyzed the numbers, cautioned that while the wage gaps are startling, the study is still in its preliminary stages.
Male professors, for instance, at the LSU Law Center annually make $28,947 on average more than female professors, according to the University Council on Gender Equity study.
“The numbers are correct,” Cheng said, adding that more work needs to be done to put these figures into context.
“Equal pay” has been a perennial debate at the Louisiana Legislature and likely will reemerge during the 2018 session. The LSU University Council on Gender Equity, however, wants to focus more on understanding the reasons why the numbers are the way they are. Pay discrepancies between faculty members are influenced by factors, such as more publications, research successes and other work.
Wednesday was a mixed day for Equal Pay supporters in the Louisiana Legislature.
Still, “it’s pretty challenging to think I could come up with controls that would explain a $20,000 a year gap,” Cheng said.
“It’s a complex issue,” said Ken McMillin, the president of the LSU Faculty Senate, who presented the Gender Equity report to the LSU Faculty Senate on Tuesday.
“Some of you are going to be real embarrassed when your school comes up,” he told the members of the faculty Senate.
LSU administrators dismissed the findings.
“The data that was used in this evaluation is missing key variables that the university weighs heavily when making hiring decisions. LSU strives to make equitable salary offers based upon experience, education, and other market factors,” LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard III said in an email.
The University Council on Gender Equity took actual salaries and standardized them to make them comparable. For instance, some teachers are contracted to work nine months while others work 12 months. Some receive bonuses. Cheng took their total wages and calculated the average monthly pay to make the comparisons for a full year.
Cheng was asked to analyze the numbers because of her work studying societal impacts of tax policies. She coauthored an article published in August 2016 by Forbes business magazine called “Federal Tax Code May Contribute To Married Women Wage Gap.”
She separated the salaries by college and compared what women were paid to what men received based on the type of job. LSU, like most universities, ranks its educational staff from instructors, the lowest rung, to senior instructors, to assistant professors, to associate professors with full professors at the top.
In some colleges, women made more. The College of Agriculture, for instance, female associate professors make, on average, $600 more. In the College of Science, women associate professors make $9,284 more than their male counterparts.
For the most part, however, women made less than men in each ranking depending on the college.
For instance, at the School of Veterinary Medicine, where women make up 83 percent of the instructors, male instructors received $9,212 on average more per year. The College of Business, where 46 percent of the instructors are women, paid men $20,967 more per year.
The 247 instructors at LSU in 2016 made an average of $47,520, according to the Board of Regents, which oversees all the state’s public universities.
Instructors are almost always classroom teachers as opposed to assistant, associate and full professors, whose days are filled with doing research and comparatively little teaching.
“I would have expected to see the pay at the instructor level to be relatively similar,” Cheng said. “The same is true for assistant professors. We shouldn’t have seen the huge differences of pay on either side that we did.”
Assistant professors typically are nearer the beginning of their careers, have similar credentials and are on a set time frame before going through the tenure process. They haven’t been there for years and years and are unlikely to have their pay impacted by length of service, she said.
But for female assistant professors in the College of Business — Cheng’s salary was included in this calculation — the average pay is $11,519 less than men. At the College of Arts and Design, where 55 percent of the assistant professors are women, men make $5,357 more per year.
Full professors, by comparison, may have awards, time on the job or publications that could affect pay, she said.
Only 9 percent of the full professors at the business school are women, and they make $10,461 less than men. At the College of Arts and Design, where 46 percent of the full professors are women, the pay disparity is $8,273 per year.
The 425 professors at LSU last year made an average of $115,443, according to the Regents. As the state’s flagship university, LSU faculty is paid more than at the other four-year and two-year institutions.