Yeshiva University’s wage gap is 12%-17%, paying female faculty, on average, between 83 and 88 for every dollar male employees earn, according to a report by the Faculty Council, for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, released in 2012 and obtained now by The Observer. The gap is comparable to the national gender-based wage gap of 83 cents on the dollar, according to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2015. The council, a committee of professors who resolve and weigh in on governance and educational issues, reported that “in nearly every category of service, salaries of female faculty are lower than those of male faculty.”
Though salaries between units differ—humanities earns less than the sciences, which in turn earns less than business—the report says that there is “a consistent trend of lower salaries for female faculty across the university.” The report—which was chaired by Dr. Will Lee, an English professor on the Wilf campus, and was based on data culled from surveys conducted by the Faculty Council and information from the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment—also noted a significant disparity between salaries on the Wilf and Beren campuses, with Beren salaries for both male and female faculty amounting to 10% less than Wilf salaries across the board.
For instance, the average male associate professor makes 97,600, while in comparison, the average female associate professor makes 79,900. The average male instructor makes 57,500 and the average female instructor makes 53,400. Additionally, “50% of all female full-time faculty at YC have salaries less than 70,000, compared with only 30% of their male counterparts.”
According to this report, the disparity undoubtedly exists. The question is, what are the factors that are contributing to this wage inequality?
One possible consideration could be length of service to the school. At many universities, this correlates with salary; the longer a professor has taught at an institution, the more they will likely make. However, the Faculty Council found that length of service did not correlate with higher salaries. In fact, some of the professors making the least overall were ones who had worked at the university for ten years or more.
Another factor to consider is tenure, as tenured professors earn more than their untenured counterparts. The Faculty Council wrote in their report that there are more tenured men than women overall, especially given that the fields that offer more tenured positions tend to be occupied by more men. The most widely tenured disciplines are business and law, in which the faculty is overwhelmingly male; for instance, 76% of the business professors at this school are male. These professions don’t just offer more tenured positions, they pay more, which helps to explain some of the mechanisms powering this disparity. The report does acknowledge the problem inherent in this explanation; to whit, that the higher salaried positions and disciplines at this school are mostly male. In fact, according to the report, the male to female faculty ratio is 2:1, and it is only so low because of the large amount of women who teach at Stern College. “Outside SCW and the exclusively male faculty of the morning programs,” the report says, “this ratio exceeds 3:1.”
The wage gap does not just exist between genders though; the disparity is across the campuses as well, with salaries at SCW “approximately 10% lower than those at YC,” an average of 13,000 less. For instance, the average assistant professor salary at YC is 70,500 while at SCW, it is 65,500. For associates on either the Wilf or Beren campus it’s the same, with YC associates making 85,600 on average and SCW associates making 78,500.
The salary data is compounded by problems in salary reporting in general; the Middle States report requires that salary information be reported from undergraduate schools only, since graduate faculty tend to make far more than undergraduate faculty. However, according to the report, the figures that were originally reported to Middle States “includes salary date on graduate units as well…which had the effect of inflating the reported salaries.” The numbers in the Faculty Council report account for this, and include only undergraduate salaries.
However, all the money problems and how they impact on faculty really stem back to one main issue; except for a two percent increase at the start of 2013, no teacher at this school has had a raise in eight years, aside from professors who received tenure during that time, and the higher salary that comes along with that promotion. The freeze was originally intended to last only two years, but as the university continued to struggle with finances long past the 2008 financial crisis, it was extended. Though 2018 has been cited by some Faculty Council members as a year that might bring a resumption of raises, the administration has not confirmed this. In fact, when asked about 2018 as the possible year the budget would be balanced, Dean Bacon replied, “That’s not what I’ve been told.”
Additionally, matching benefits to 403b retirement funds were cut from 7% to 2%. (For reference, NYU matches 10% of faculty contributions, as does St. Johns, with Pace matching 9% overall). These two factors have combined to put professors in a tight position, with many of them expected to subsist on salaries that don’t compete with the cost of living in New York City, which, incidentally, is 120% higher than the national average.
This has forced many professors to delay retirement. A 2013 retirement survey conducted by the Faculty Council states that “the principal problem is not that faculty members do not know they need to save for retirement: it is that they are financially unable to save enough.” When faculty were surveyed to see what help they needed from the school to retire on time, 88% said they would require a return to 7% matching contributions to their 403(b) funds. In the area designated for anonymous responses, one professor wrote, “I have no intention of retiring until I can no longer physically do my job.” Another wrote, “Having enough money to live on is a very high priority.”
Charles Swencionis, a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the current chair of the Faculty Council, said that, for faculty members, this is the biggest issue facing the school, even more than the wage gap between campuses and genders. “Frankly, we’ve all been so concerned with the fact that we have had no raises for seven of the last eight years that it would be nice to start getting raises at all.”
In fact, the wage disparities discovered by the Faculty Council for the Middle States Commission are, according to members of the council, largely due to historical factors rather than current gender based hiring practices or salary policies. However, if no teachers receive raises, it will be impossible for the school to rectify this problem which seems, according to faculty members, to still exist largely from inertia more than anything else.
Swencionis said that faculty is “extremely frustrated. We certainly feel unappreciated… morale is low.”
YU’s Strategic Plan, which was released in September 2016 and aims to “stake out a future vision” for the university, says it hopes to “develop a plan with benchmarks by summer 2017 to improve faculty compensation (salary and benefits) that meets the collective goals of the University.”