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The Gender Pay Gap Among Professors

Beate Kortendiek’s recent article “Sprechen wir über Geld: Der Gender Pay Gap bei Professuren” summarises the results of a recent study on the gender pay gap at institutions of higher education in Nord-Rhein Westphalia. Despite the popular opinion that gender neutrality rules in the academic world (and taboos surrounding discussions of it), the study showed that a gender pay gap does exist for professors.

On the large scale, across all pay grades and types of institutions, female professors made an average of 521 € less per month than their male colleagues. This difference can be explained in large part by the fact that women are often in the lower pay grades of W and C salaries.

But even when making comparisons within pay grades, types of institutions, and subject areas, it was discovered that female professors make less than their male counterparts. For example, within the W3 pay grade, male professors earn an average of 2,266 € a month, whereas female professors earn 1,665 €.

This has to do with the performance benefits (Leistungsbezüge) part of their salary, which female professors receive less often and in lower amounts. One might be tempted to explain this difference with the difference in market conditions for various fields — an engineering professor will receive higher performance benefits than a German studies professor, and there is a higher percentage of male professors in engineering than in German studies.

However, even within subject areas, men receive higher performance benefits than women. A male engineering professor earns more than a female engineering professor, just like a male German studies professor earns more than a female German studies professor.

So it’s become clear that there’s a problem and that the gender pay gap among professors is not due to indirect factors like pay grade and subject area. What can we do in the face of this? Kortendiek calls for increased transparence for salaries at institutions of higher education as a first necessary step in achieving equal pay among professors.

Read more in Kortendiek’s article.

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