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Pay Gap for Women Social Work Faculty Continues Nationwide

Even in a profession where women are the majority, social work faculty women continue to earn less than their male counterparts, according to new research from West Virginia University.

From a nationally representative survey, West Virginia University Professor of Social Work Leslie Tower, along with coauthors Anna Faul (University of Louisville), Christina Chiarello-Helminiak (West Chester University) and Diane Hodge (Radford University), found that men social work faculty earn nearly $6,000 more per year than women social work faculty.

“Much attention has been given to the underrepresentation of women in STEM and the lack of gender parity in resource allocation,” Tower says. “This study is an important reminder that women have not yet gained gender parity in women-majority professions, in this case, social work.”

Men social work faculty with no administrative duties earned nearly the same salary as women with administrative duties—$82,300 vs. $82,800, respectively.

“This clearly demonstrates the lack of value that is placed on women performing administrative duties out of obligation and a sense of duty,” Faul says.

The researchers found that despite the overrepresentation of female social work faculty, men are more likely to hold the most prestigious rank of professor, while women are more likely to hold the rank of associate professor, instructor, or other titles.

Women also experience a greater salary penalty when they teach in undergraduate-only social work programs.

“The programs with graduate degrees are considered more prestigious, followed by the programs with joint master’s and bachelor’s degrees, and then those with just undergraduate degrees,” Chiarelli-Helminiak says. “There is a penalty, an additional amount of inequity, when women take jobs at institutions that just offer bachelor’s degrees.

While a pay gap continues to exist, the gap has narrowed by about $4,000 since 2003, Hodge says. Since the last national study, parity has improved in other areas, such as in administrative positions and tenure status.

“This study shows that while some gains have been made, sadly we are not post-women’s equity,” Tower says.

The study was published in Affilia.

Source: West Virginia University — Eberly College of Arts and Sciences