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The U of C’s response to having worst wage gap in Canada is alarming

By Jesse Stilwell, May 18 2017 —

Statistics Canada recently released survey data on the wages of full-time teaching staff at Canadian universities. The results were damning — they found that the University of Calgary has the widest gender pay gap among Canadian universities, with women making 17.2 per cent less than men on average. The U of C was quick to respond to the news, writing in UToday that “socio-economic factors, not institutional biases, help explain gender wage gaps.” This blasé response fails to explain why our school’s wage gap is the worst in the country or how our administration plans to shrink it.

The U of C’s statement was probably the most obvious thing they could have said — of course socio-economic factors help explain wage gaps. The gender wage gap is undeniably a socio-economic phenomenon pervasive in all corners of society. But that does not mean the U of C can dismiss their wage gap as a societal problem, especially when our campus has the largest wage gap in the entire country.

The university argues that men who entered the workforce before women were promoted earlier and that there are more men than women in some lucrative fields. While this is true, it doesn’t explain why these problems are so prevalent at the U of C. Why is it that the Universities of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Toronto are better at promoting women than the U of C? This needs to be acknowledged — even if it means owning up to “institutional biases.”  

The U of C failed to acknowledge the weight of the survey’s findings. They should have formulated a thorough and meaningful response detailing action to decrease this gap. Our campus will not attract strong female professors if they fear they will not be fairly compensated. U of C students deserve the best possible education and they will not receive it until every professor is receiving the salary they deserve, regardless of their gender.

In their response, the U of C cited two internal surveys which showed that the gender pay gap exists largely because there are many high-paid male professors in faculties like engineering and business. And though they do acknowledge that there are women who demonstrate the merit to receive promotions to positions similar to their male colleagues, the U of C does not outline any concrete strategy to elevate women in these departments. The U of C was clearly trying to save face by addressing the wage gap, but their response demonstrates just how little they care about this discovery.

I am ashamed to attend a university that is willing not only to tolerate a gender wage gap, but to disregard it as a societal problem that it cannot play an immediate role in ending. I would have more respect for my university had it responded with concern and a tangible course of action to ensure they are doing everything in their power to rectify this problem.

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