Search the Lounge


« Tanenhaus' "Barack, Bill, and Me" | Main | Same Sex Victory in Connecticut - A Real One! »

October 10, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Seriously. Thank you.

Orin Kerr

I'm curious, when you say that "The idea that a junior male faculty member is making a higher salary than a very senior female faculty member makes me angry," are you implicitly saying that you are angry if the pay disparity is due to gender, or that you are angry even if the disparity is unrelated to gender? Or are you confident that the disparity is based on gender even if you do not know who the people are?

I ask only because in my experience, academic salaries are subject to a lot of odd factors, ranging from competition for the professor when hired to competing offers over the course of the professor's career to the professor's prominence in the field.

Kathy Stanchi

Hi Orin. Thanks for the question -- a good one.
You are right that academic salaries are subject to a lot of "odd factors" (odd is a great word). But I have two thoughts. One is a clarification. When I made the statement I was referencing the Rutgers statistic. That statistic revealed such a significant disparity (35 years vs. 16??) that it smelled of sex discrimination. That, coupled with all the other evidence in the report, made me pretty confident in reference to that particular case.

The second point is a bigger one, and probably more controversial. In my view, those "odd factors" you talk about are not necessarily neutral in the sense of being free of sexism. If we take seriously that sexism is a problem throughout society, then things like competition over hiring and the professor's "prominence" (that's got to be a murky measurement) can be (and often are) affected by gender (and sexism). You may not buy that, but that's my view (and my experience, including my experience on faculty selection).


Orin Kerr


Thanks for the response. In reply, wasn't that statistic just an anecdote? I thought it was just two people, not some sort of faculty average.

As for the odd factors, I agree that there can be some gender effects. On the whole, men are more likely to be unbalanced and give up every waking hour to write and seek academic prominence; women are more likely to seek balance in their lives and not give up every waking hour to that goal. On the whole, this means that more men are likely to achieve academic prominence (at least absent corrective countermeasures) just based on the sheer number of hours they give up in pursuit of that goal.

If I'm right about that, though, I don't know why the two salaries should be equal. To add in some numbers, if one professor works 60 hours a week and a colleague works 35 hours a week, is it really unfair to the first professor if he is paid 20% more? If we take the view that pay equity occurs when each person is paid for the work they put in, the person who works almost twice the hours should get almost twice the pay to achieve equity. Of course, that's not the only way of calculating it, but I do think that we need to look at more than gender, the number of years on the job, and the overall salary to get a sense of what is really fair.

Orin Kerr

oops -- make that, unfair to the second professor if the first is paid 20% more.

Kathy Stanchi

Hi Orin

1) You are right, it was not an average, it was just a comparison of two salaries (I misused the word statistic). But I think "anecdote" undersells it a bit; the report was more than just allegations. It was the result of an investigation by a faculty committee that found "significant evidence" of bias. So, I viewed it as having more weight (and veracity) than an "anecdote."

And, with regard to that particular evidence or fact, I still stand by my view, though your point is well taken. Is it possible that the differential had nothing to do with sexism? I guess it's possible. But not likely. The report detailed lots of evidence of pretty troubling sexism throughout the poli sci department, including harassment and demeaning comments, multiple salary differentials, and exclusion of women profs from critical department decision-making. Given all that, what is the likelihood that the salary disparity there was the result of true fairness or equity? In my view, not very high. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

2) As for the hourly example, I think that, as you point out, it isn't the most apt example in the academic realm. (I can't resist pointing out that also, I think you and I have a chicken/egg problem there. I see the "balance" difference, if it's a true generalization, as a result of the pay disparity between men and women, not the other way around. That is, women are paid less, so when family duties call, it is our work that gives way. So, we get tagged with wanting "balance" when really, many of us would like pay equity so we could make a rational argument for our husbands to pick up some slack at home!).

3) But perhaps more to the point, academics don't bill our time and that's not how prominence (or merit) is measured, at least not at any law school I've ever heard of. It's a lot fuzzier than that, though I understand that to make your point the numbers are a much better example than the previous reference to "prominence" or competing offers. I, and many women profs, work a lot of hours, but somehow what we do is not as highly valued (ie, it doesn't translate as often to "prominence" or competing offers). This is much more eloquently argued in Nancy Levit's article, as well as articles by Marjorie Kornhauser and Ann McGinley. (LRW, which I teach, is a great example. I work many hours, it just isn't the kind of work, for some reason, that is highly valued at most places.)

But I think we may just have competing worldviews. Let's take SCT clerkships, which is a clear piece of academic capital -- a clear indicator of "prominence." When I hear that the US SCT doesn't hire very many women as clerks, for example, to me that smacks of bias. I simply can't believe that the Justices can't find more women who are willing to work as hard as men. For you, I think, more evidence than that simple statistic (think I got it right this time) is needed.

Whew. Sorry to be so windy! This has been a great conversation. I'm new to blogging so I'm always delighted when someone actually reads what I write...but I have to get back to those student papers!

Orin Kerr

Thanks again for the exchange, Kathy. (Especially given that I don't think anyone is reading this but us!) A few thoughts:

I guess I do think that the number of hours worked is still a major key to academic prominence. To become prominent, the most certain route is to flood the zone with law review articles. Scholarship is the key, and the more prolific you are, the more you are likely to become prominent. (As a colleague puts it, appointments committees can count better than they can read.) And you can't flood the zone without spending all day typing.

As for hiring Supreme Court clerks, the applicant pool is pretty gendered, in my experience. The number of people who give up their lives for three years of law school to get every possible highest grade they can is disproportionately men, and men end up disproportionately being the ones who are clerking for the feeder judges and have the kind of top grades and top lower court clerkships that traditionally lead to SCT clerkships.

I'm reminded a bit of when I was in law school and the Harvard Law Review was considering having affirmative action for women to ensure equal numbers. They did a survey of the students to find out what was going on, and it turned out that women and men made the Review at the same rate: The difference was that fewer women applied, because fewer women wanted to be on Law Review. They had other things they wanted to do instead, while the men where more likely to be willing to give up other things to be on law review.

That's my sense of things, at least. To be certain, I think there is a lot of sexism that translates into lower salaries for women in a number of areas and industries. But I tend to think that academia isn't so likely to be one of them, or at least that legal academia isn't.

Anonymous attorney

It is rather odd that Professor Stanchi has such a penchant for posting about sex (or as she would have it gender) discrimination.

When I was in law school, she tried to compare the discrimination that gays experience in society as on par with anti-semitism in Nazi Germany (I can't make this stuff up folks - she had a posting on her office door regarding the king of Denmark and how he tried to stand up for the Jews in Denmark and how that is analogous to the persecution that gays face in today's society).

Furthermore, Professor Stanchi told a women I was close friends with (she didn't realize I was waiting outside her office door to speak with her) that she needs to drop her fiancee (and father of her then unborn child) because she is good enough to make in the world without a man and that he would only weigh her down and that men in general are a weight on her professional progress.

I digress; I write this because as much as Professor Stanchi claims to be interested in fairness and equality, she was nothing more than an unfair, biased professor who, I am convinced, downgraded me because I am a man.


The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad