Wednesday, May 2, 2007

NWA Times: UA Short-Changes Women

The Northwest Arkansas Times editorial today comments on the salary disparity for women faculty at the University of Arkansas. This is an issue of serious concern for AFSCME Local 965 and all UA employees. The UA Administration that created and perpetuated the situation seems to think they can ignore the problem and continue business as usual. The questions we asked more than a week ago have gone unanswered, but those questions remain on the mind of both taxpayers and the media. Here's what the NWA Times has to say:

"The UA — THE bastion of liberal thought and theory in Northwest Arkansas. THE supposed safe place where citizens of every shape and size are sure to fit in. Everyone but women, that is. A recent report presented to the UA’s Faculty Senate suggests the pay gap between the sexes at the state’s flagship university is actually widening. For instance, the report cited an $ 11, 000 difference between male and female assistant professors. This suggests an imbalance that’s reflective of a national trend that goes well beyond conspiracy theorists who believe the UA is out to get its female employees. According to the U. S. Department of Labor, women who work full-time jobs in America earn 75 cents for every dollar that a man earns,
and the gap is larger for women of color. ...

"Fayetteville students taking courses in American government might be especially confused, since they may have recently read about the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which was supposed to make it illegal to pay women less than men for work that is “ substantially equal” unless differences in pay are based on extenuating circumstances, such as experience or seniority. Apparently much of America has yet to get Uncle Sam’s drift. Equally aggravating is that universities and corporations can’t realistically snap their fingers and do away with pay inequity just like that. A problem such as this is a generational affair, with pay inequity building upon itself so that women never come close to catching up. The nation has made progress, but nobody should assume gender discrimination has disappeared. Make no mistake about it, though: It is particularly embarrassing that a major campus in a university town is paying some of its female employees less than their male peers. With all the supposedly progressive thinking college campuses are known for, it seems UA officials should know better. ...

"Today America, and the UA, make due with inequalities in pay, but future generations may look back at such practices as warped in its sense of justice. Someone needs to offer an explanation of why disparities continue and what it will take to fix them. Someone being paid less based solely on gender surely cannot be expected to display patience and understanding while a system of inequity continues to exist. Surely men can understand how unjust this is. How many men can honestly say they’re comfortable that their daughters will be paid unfairly simply because of who they are? None we can think of."

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