Leader: Old attitudes die hard

September 3, 2004

There are many reasons why one university may pay higher average salaries than another. The subject profile, large numbers of postdoctoral researchers, even location, may all contribute to apparently perverse results when comparisons are drawn. However, one factor that should not (but obviously does) distort the figures is the proportion of women on a university's staff. Even allowing for historical imbalances in the proportion of men in senior academic positions, the salary gap is indefensible. Universities have shown with the establishment and subsequent expansion of the Equality Challenge Unit that they take such issues seriously - not that they have much choice, given recent legislation. With previous statistics showing that women are being promoted in greater numbers than men, the balance should begin to tilt naturally. But today's figures suggest it will be a long wait for equality if old-fashioned employment practices do not change.

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