Academic citizenship and the pay gap

Female professors earn less on average than their male counterparts because they focus on underappreciated “academic citizen” roles that do not lead to promotion or pay rises, a new study suggests.

Male professors devote less time to mentoring duties, serving on university committees and other “academic citizen” roles, and instead concentrate on their own research – an activity more likely to win them external recognition and a pay rise, according to a paper by Bruce Macfarlane, professor of higher education at University of Southampton, and Damon Burg, a research fellow at Southampton Education School.

As presented in the THES article, this would appear to be a choice women happen to have made to be good academic citizens.  But I think it’s important to remember that these are not simply choices.  First, women are likely to be asked to serve on more committees simply because they are underrepresented and women are needed on committees.  But also, and at least as importantly, women are more expected to take on the mentoring and good citizen roles.  A woman who devotes herself exclusively to her research is likely to be viewed more negatively than a man who does so.

2 thoughts on “Academic citizenship and the pay gap

  1. Another factor is that women faculty inhabit sexist, male-dominated academic institutions where they may well desire to participate on committees in order to effect important changes in institutional policies and to help ensure just and equitable treatment of female faculty, students, and staff. It is not only that women are asked/expected to serve, nor simply that they want to mentor; they may perceive the genuine importance of their participation as “academic citizens” to securing their own future in academia through structuring policy changes and urging fair evaluations, etc. (I would also challenge the idea the women do not “focus” as much on research and the idea that research [alone] accounts for higher salaries for men. But I haven’t read the source article to see exactly how those claims are handled.)

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