Even in a profession where women are the majority, social work faculty women continue to earn less than their male counterparts, according to new research from West Virginia University.
From a nationally representative survey, WVU Professor of Social Work Leslie Tower, along with co-authors Anna Faul (University of Louisville), Christina Chiarello-Helminiak (West Chester University) and Diane Hodge (Radford University), found that men social work faculty earn nearly $6,000 more per year than women social work faculty.
“Much attention has been given to the underrepresentation of women in STEM and the lack of gender parity in resource allocation,” Tower said. “This study is an important reminder that women have not yet gained gender parity in women-majority professions, in this case, social work.”
Men social work faculty with no administrative duties earned nearly the same salary as women with administrative duties – $82,300 vs. $82,800, respectively.
“This clearly demonstrates the lack of value that is placed on women performing administrative duties out of obligation and a sense of duty,” Faul said.
The researchers found that despite the overrepresentation of female social work faculty, men are more likely to hold the most prestigious rank of professor, while women are more likely to hold the rank of associate professor, instructor or other titles.
Women also experience a greater salary penalty when they teach in undergraduate-only social work programs.
“The programs with graduate degrees are considered more prestigious, followed by the programs with joint master’s and bachelor’s degrees and then those with just undergraduate degrees,” Chiarelli-Helminiak said. “There is a penalty, an additional amount of inequity, when women take jobs at institutions that just offer bachelor’s degrees.”
While a pay gap continues to exist, the gap has narrowed by about $4,000 since 2003, Hodge said. Since the last national study, parity has improved in other areas, such as in administrative positions and tenure status.
“This study shows that while some gains have been made, sadly we are not post-women’s equity,” Tower said.
The study was published on March 26 in Affilia.