LSE to give female academics pay rises to close gap with men

Internal analysis finds women earn 10.5 per cent less than men of similar experience and research productivity

September 10, 2016
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Female academics at the London School of Economics are set to be given pay rises after an internal analysis found that they were paid significantly less than their male counterparts, even when age, length of service and research productivity were controlled for.

Heads of department at the LSE will be asked to nominate female academics who deserve salary increases “on the basis of equity” in response to the study, which found that women earned 10.5 per cent less than men with similar experience and output.

The move, announced by interim LSE director Julia Black, follows the University of Essex’s decision to move its female professors up three pay points in order to lift their average salaries to the same level as male chairs.

The LSE commissioned Oriana Bandiera, a professor of economics at the institution, to conduct the analysis, which found that the gender earnings gap had grown from 3 per cent in 1998 to its current level.

It says that the gap is particularly pronounced at the most senior levels, with a wage difference of 16.2 per cent for academics earning at the 75th percentile, and 30.4 per cent at the 90th percentile.

Professor Bandiera also found that, while women and men at the LSE are promoted to senior lecturer at the same rate, the chances of promotion became significantly more unequal after that.

After 10 years at the institution, 35 per cent of men are readers, but only 20 per cent of women are; and, after 15 years, men are more than twice as likely to become professors: 24 per cent reach the top rung, compared with only 11 per cent of women.

Professor Bandiera described the gaps in pay as concerning, but not surprising. She said that they may be explained in part by the increased mobility of male academics, which may give them greater bargaining power.

“There should be no pay gap if people are of similar ability and experience; there is no reason why women should be paid any less,” Professor Bandiera said. “I’m also concerned that promotions are much slower for women, but I am very happy that we are having serious conversations about these things.”

Heads of department will be able to nominate anyone for a pay rise, but a message from Professor Black says that the exercise will have a “particular, but not exclusive, focus on women”.

Senior staff will be asked to take performance in teaching, research and knowledge exchange into account when making nominations, with final decisions set to be taken by the LSE’s academic staff reward committee.

A spokesman for the university said that pay gaps were an issue facing universities across the country.

“It is a challenge LSE takes very seriously, which is why the school commissioned this comprehensive analysis by Professor Bandiera, and why it is taking decisive action,” he said. “This process to reduce pay inequity will be accompanied by additional work to address other factors affecting recruitment, promotion and retention at the school.”

Professor Bandiera also found that female professional staff at the LSE earned 5.9 per cent less than men of similar age and service in similar divisions, and that ethnic minority staff earned 11.4 per cent less than their white counterparts. Further investigation of these differences is set to be conducted. 

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

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