CUPA-HR Report Provides Update on Women Faculty Representation and Pay Equity

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) has recently released a new report that outlines the current state of women’s representation and pay equity among faculty across the United States. The report analyzes data from the CUPA-HR Faculty in Higher Education Survey, comparing demographic data of both tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty in the 2016-2017 academic year compared to the 2022-2023 academic year.

Overall, the representation of women in tenure-track faculty positions has increased over the past seven years, with a seven percent increase from 2016 to 2023. This is largely due to a sharp increase in women of color faculty whose representation increased by 36 percent during this time period. Additionally, the report found women faculty are slightly overrepresented in assistant professor roles, but disparities remain for women at the associate professor and full professor ranks. Women represent 53 percent of assistant professors, but only 36 percent of full professors. This pattern was seen across all faculty disciplines.

Progress has been made in pay equity for tenure-track women of color faculty, but White women’s pay gap has widened over the past seven years. For every $1 paid to White men faculty, White women’s pay equity decreased from $0.99 in 2016 to $0.97 in 2023. In comparison, Asian, Black, and Hispanic women faculty have reached pay equity, and some cases even surpassed the compensation of White male faculty. However, there are some disciplines where women of all racial backgrounds are still underpaid compared to their male counterparts. The largest disparities in pay for women faculty were primarily seen in STEM fields, with the lowest gaps found in the health professions.

When examining data regarding non-tenure track faculty, the report found women represent the majority of these positions. Similar to tenure-track roles, there was an overall increase in women’s representation in non-tenure track positions that was largely attributed to an increase in women of color. Additionally, some progress has been made in pay equity for women non-tenure track faculty. Compared to every $1 made by White men, Hispanic women made $0.94, White women made $0.92, and Black women made $0.96 in 2016. In 2023, this increased to $0.98 for Hispanic, White, and Black women. Asian women’s compensation has surpassed White men’s, with this group making $1.06 to every $1 made by White men.

The report offers recommendations for how higher education leaders and human resources departments can work towards achieving equity among both non-tenure and tenure-track faculty. The authors suggest institutions examine their promotion process for tenure-track faculty, conduct regular pay equity audits, and establish funding initiatives specifically targeted at underrepresented groups. They also recommend college and university leaders prioritize inclusive retention strategies, such as clearly outlining opportunities for advancement, recognition, and professional development, as well as offer flexible working options that create a more inclusive environment.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study

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