Public Release: 

Gender-based pay gaps among US faculty


Ithaca, NY--November 10, 2009--Before the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law by President Kennedy, women earned about fifty percent less than men. Nationally, women still earn an average of thirty percent less than men regardless of education, choice of industry, or professional standing. Even some of the most highly educated and qualified women are subject to salary discrimination.

A new study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly analyzes the salaries of faculty members at a large, American University and shows a significant gender-based pay gap. The researchers took into account the challenges that are introduced by market-based pay structure and individual human capital factors (education level, experience, rank). Although these factors influence salary directly, it was the gender-based disparity that posed a significant issue to equal pay practice, and clearly favored men. Salary patterns were evaluated separately using two statistical approaches that produced very similar results in regard to the size and direction of a gender pay gap.

"Our findings show that women who wish to challenge pay gaps at their own institution need to systematically and quantitatively approach the situation, especially during a time of economic downturn," said Cheryl B. Travis, lead author and Professor of Psychology at the University of Tennessee.

Despite the fact that gender-based pay equality has not improved much over the past decade, recent equal pay legislation such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (passed by Obama in 2009) could alleviate this imbalance.


This study is published in the November 2009 issue of the Psychology of Women Quarterly. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact

To view the abstract for this article, please visit

Cheryl B. Travis is a Professor of Psychology, Chair of Women's Studies, and member of the Commission for Women at the University of Tennessee, as well as fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), and member of the APA Board of Educational Affairs. Professor Travis can be reached for questions at Her co-authors were Louis Gross, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Mathematics, and graduate student Bruce Johnson. Related supportive studies include the AAUW report, "Behind the Gender Pay Gap" by Judy Goldberg Dey and Catherine Hill (2007) that may be downloaded as a pdf file from

About the Journal: Psychology of Women Quarterly (PWQ) is a feminist journal that publishes primarily qualitative and quantitative research with substantive and theoretical merit, along with critical reviews, theoretical articles, and invited book reviews related to the psychology of women and gender. Topics include career choice and training; management and performance variables; education; lifespan role development and change; physical and mental health and well-being; physical, sexual, and psychological abuse; violence and harassment; prejudice and discrimination; psychobiological factors; sex-related comparisons; sexuality, sexual orientation, and heterosexism; social and cognitive processes; and therapeutic processes. Topics related to ethnic minority and cross-cultural issues are encouraged. These suggestions are not exhaustive, but are intended to guide the investigator when considering appropriateness of an article for the journal. Literary analyses do not fall within the purview of the journal.

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