October 13, 1997
Volume 50, No. 8
A salary study conducted by the President's Commission on the Status of Women found parity in the pay rates of male and female employees in four grade levels. But the data may have revealed a larger issue: a "glass ceiling" that blocks women from managerial and supervisory roles.
The commission's staff concerns committee undertook the study a year ago after focus groups of women employees held during the 1995-96 academic year revealed a perception of salary inequities between men and women at Emory. "We were not looking for a problem [at the study's outset], we were looking for answers." said Deborah Floyd, assistant director for student affairs at the law school and present chair of the staff concerns committee.
An exploratory analysis of men's and women's salaries in grade levels 12, 13, 16 and 19 conducted by George Engelhard, an associate professor in Educational Studies, found no statistically significant differences in salaries for men and women after studying a number of variables. Engelhard examined median pay and isolated salaries by the highest and lowest, also examining pay that fell 25 and 75 percent between the two endpoints. Individually examining salaries gives a more accurate reading than averaging, said Floyd. "Even one or two people making significant higher salaries can skew the median."
The study encompassed 646 full-time, active employees, 63.8 percent of whom were women. The raw salary data, which was supplied by Human Resources, ranged from $14,456 to $43,056. "While researching the history of the PCSW, the issue of pay inequity has been raised . . . for at least 15 years," Floyd wrote in a memo to President Bill Chace. "Hopefully, this report can lay the issue to rest.
"However, this revelation, while not completely unexpected, does lead to another . . . area-the 'glass ceiling' for women at Emory," she added. That perception was clearly stated in the focus groups. "[In my department] they don't have any women in head management, [even though] they do have qualified women [with degrees] who have been here awhile and can do the job," said one participant. "Men [are] in more powerful positions across the board," said another.
The PCSW plans to spend the current school year looking at possible barriers to advancement for women. "If the glass ceiling is just a perception, we're going to find that out," said Floyd. "We're trying to get as clear and as accurate a picture as possible to give to President Chace," she said. Lack of advancement for women may be due to external factors but may also be "personal choice or lack of education, training and experience," said Floyd. "We're not interested in a lot of 'what ifs,' but rather what is."
Floyd said the committee's next step is finding a consultant who can help them "develop the right questions and a true picture" of advancement for women at Emory.
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