Masters Thesis

Closing the gap: reviewing pay secrecy and gender pay equity in higher education

Women now significantly outnumber men in college attendance and graduation rates in the U.S. However, evidence suggests that the work of female professionals within institutions of higher education is significantly devalued in relation to men. Despite the decades-long existence of federal civil rights laws designed to bring wage parity to men and women in the United States, research shows that a gender wage gap persists which results in a present-day wage disparity between male and female faculty throughout the country. Gender equity scholars have indicated that institutional pay transparency policies may work to close the gender wage gap within colleges and universities. This applied research study reviews the literature on the gender pay gap in higher education and its relation to institutional pay secrecy policies. The study analyzes data from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Pay Equity Study for two five-year periods both before and after online publication of faculty wage data by the University, in order to determine the measurable impact of the open pay system on the gender wage gap within UCI faculty. Within this framework, policy alternatives are reviewed and analyzed, suggesting that in order to eliminate gender wage inequity within academia, systemic reform is necessary at the institutional level.

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