Gender pay gap persists for higher education administrators

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Higher education administration is still a man’s world if you’re measuring pay and position title.

A gender pay gap at the top levels of higher education leadership has persisted over the last 15 years, according to new research released Tuesday by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, known as CUPA-HR. A gulf between the number of men and women in the most prestigious, highest-paying jobs has not closed significantly, either.

Women working in administrative positions mostly filled by men did earn relatively more than many of their peers who work in positions largely filled by women — and in a handful of cases, those outnumbered women earned more than their male counterparts. While that may offer little or no comfort to women administrators who believe in equal pay for equal work across the board, it could show that colleges and universities are attempting to recruit and keep women for positions in which they are underrepresented.

The new research on women’s pay and representation in the top ranks of colleges and universities comes at a time when discussions of equality are common and many in higher education seem to recognize the benefits of diversity, said Jacqueline Bichsel, CUPA-HR director of research. Research shows that a diverse staff can help more students succeed and improve institutions’ research ability, she said. That diversity includes gender diversity.

Yet several key indicators have changed little since the start of the century.

“We’ve had this wage gap for so long now, and nothing has been done about it,” Bichsel said.

Women administrators in higher education earn 80 cents on the dollar when compared to men, CUPA-HR found. That’s narrowed by only 3 cents since 2001, when women administrators earned 77 cents on the dollar versus men. It’s also largely in line with the gender pay gap for all full-time workers in the United States, which shows women earning 79 cents for every dollar men earn.

The pay gap between female and male higher education administrators seemed to be shrinking at a faster rate in the early 2000s. Then the Great Recession hit. Drops in higher education funding during the recession might have prevented the gap from narrowing further, as recessions tend to have a greater economic impact on women and minorities, according to CUPA-HR.

In 2016, women made up approximately half of higher education administrators across the country, despite some variations regionally. Women made up a little more than half of administrators in the Northeast and slightly less than half of administrators in the Midwest, West and South.

But the percentage of women drops dramatically in administrative positions that are considered more prestigious — and are typically higher paying. For example, more than 50 percent of department heads are women. But less than 30 percent of top executives are women.

Although there are fewer women in top-paying positions, those who hold those jobs generally experience a narrower pay gap. Women top executives earn more than 90 cents on the dollar when compared to men. Department heads earn only about 85 cents on the dollar.

For a few specific positions, like chief facilities officers, women administrators who are steeply outnumbered by men earn more than men. For example, men outnumber women chief facilities officers by a ratio of more than nine to one, but women in such positions make $1.17 for every dollar men make.

That could indicate that institutions are trying to recruit and retain women leaders in positions where they are sharply underrepresented. It appears to be one place higher education stands out from other types of employers, Bichsel said.

“In those positions where women are extremely underrepresented, there does appear to be an effort to pay them more,” she said. “I wasn’t able to find that evidence in private industry. At least in higher ed, there is an effort being made.”

Still, female administrators in many other positions where women are more prevalent are paid substantially less than men in the same roles. Women earn a lower median salary than men in 12 of 15 executive positions reported. In half of those 12 positions, the salary difference is more than 10 percent.

“There might be a perception that they’ve taken care of whatever discrimination might be going on simply by representing women,” Bichsel said. “You can’t lose sight of the fact that we’re still underpaying them even if we’re representing them well.”

Women aren’t paid highly in all of the roles where they are underrepresented. Women make up just under 40 percent of chief financial officers. But chief financial officers had the highest pay gap between men and women, with women making just 77 cents for every dollar men made.

Women hold more than half of the available jobs in only a handful of executive positions: human resources, libraries, public relations, institutional research and student affairs. Women make up more than 70 percent of administrators in only one of those areas, human resources. Meanwhile, male presidents outnumber female presidents by a ratio of more than two to one. Male chief information officers and chief athletics administrators outnumber women by a ratio of more than four to one.

Breaking down the administrative pay gap by years of service showed the gap decreasing as seniority rose — up to a point. The pay gap began increasing again for women with more than 17 years of service. Several factors could be behind that trend, including more barriers for women from older generations, ageism and a general U.S. pay gap that is wider for older women, according to CUPA-HR.

The higher ed administrative pay gap varies little by region, CUPA-HR found. The Midwest has closed it the most in the last 15 years, with women’s pay rising by 8 cents on the dollar men earn, from 74 cents to 82 cents. The West, which had the highest women-to-men pay ratio in 2001 — more than 80 cents on the dollar at the time — has gone through the least change since then.

CUPA-HR suggests institutions examine their own data to determine how well women are represented and compensated in administrative positions.

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GoFundMe Guidebook Says College Crowdfunding on the Rise

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Crowdsourcing


GoFundMe Guidebook Says College Crowdfunding on the Rise





Image Credit: GoFundMe.


In the last three years, more than 130,000 individuals have raised $60 million from more than 850,000 donations for college-related expenses, including tuition and supplies, according to GoFundMe. The crowdfunding platform today released a new guidebook that highlights the growing trend of students using social fundraising to pay for school and includes tips to help students get started on their own campaign.


One notable college campaign, according to the guidebook, involved a student from Compton, CA who was accepted into Harvard University. The student used GoFundMe to raise $21,358 for tuition, room and board. In another campaign, an undocumented student who earned legal status through the DREAM act used the online platform to raise $9,315 to cover community college costs and compete in college track and field.


Additionally, the online crowdfunding platform has launched a new hub that will “serve as a resource for GoFundMe donors to find students,” according to the guidebook. There are also tips on how to initiate a successful crowdfunding campaign for college scholarships, study abroad programs, volunteer trips and more.





















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Trump list of programs to kill includes AmeriCorps, NEH and NEA

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The Trump administration is circulating a list of programs to eliminate — and it includes the Corporation for National and Community Service, the agency that finances AmeriCorps, which places young people in service positions in which they earn money for student aid or to repay student loans.

The list, revealed by The New York Times, also includes the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, previously reported to be targets for elimination in the first Trump budget. Both the NEH and the NEA support campus programs, and their advocates in higher education are already seeking support to save the agencies.

The Times article noted that the list indicates that final decisions haven’t been made, but all of the programs on the list have for years had conservative critics who want to end them.

In the case of AmeriCorps, the program was a major initiative of President Clinton, and has long been associated with him. Hillary Clinton, in her campaign, vowed to expand the program. While many have praised the program for promoting service among young people and providing them with money for college, the program has been stymied by tight budgets and has never become as large or influential as President Clinton envisioned. (Here is a background article from 2014 about the program on its 20th anniversary.)

AmeriCorps has been a meaningful source of money for college for its participants. For a year of service, students can receive a grant equivalent to the maximum Pell Grant to use for future college costs or to repay student loans, and students may receive up two of these educational awards. (The maximum Pell Grant for 2015-16 was $5,775.)

Since 1994, about 1 million people who were AmeriCorps participants have received education grants that total more than $2.4 billion. The value of the grants is even larger at the many colleges and universities that match AmeriCorps education awards.

The programs on the list obtained by the Times are all relatively small, but the article suggested that the administration wants to find any savings possible in domestic spending and to eliminate programs when  possible.

As word spread Friday night of AmeriCorps as a target, its program participants and alumni took to social media to talk about what they had done in the program.

 

 

 

 

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Anti-Trump activists call a national general strike for Feb 17: buy nothing, protest everywhere

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The nonvoilent, nationwide National General Strike has been called for one week from tomorrow, with rallies up and down the country. The strikers have two demands for elected lawmakers: 1. Reaffirm your oath of office and unbounded compliance with the Constitution of the United States of America; and 2. Actively oppose any governmental language or action that violates any tenent of our Constitution.

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OER’s Road Ahead is Paved with Publisher Platforms | From the Bell Tower

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Steven BellAcademic librarians are pleased with the progress they’ve made in leading their campuses to recognize the value of Open Educational Resources (OER). Now publishers are responding to OER with new learning platforms. It may be time for a new strategy.

Academic librarians should be proud of their progress in promoting the value of OER adoption as a benefit to students. Library-led textbook affordability projects on college campuses have grown in popularity since I first promoted, in a 2009 edition of this column, the idea of academic librarians taking the lead at their institutions to encourage a new approach I referred to as “curricular resource strategies.” The terminology didn’t catch on, but the idea of tackling the textbook pricing crisis with library-based programs to support faculty adoption of alternate learning content certainly did.

As a result, students have saved millions of dollars in textbook costs. Academic librarians are sharing information about their textbook affordability efforts at conferences and in our literature. Library consortia in states such as Virginia, Louisiana, and Utah are establishing collaborative projects to introduce and support textbook affordability at their institutions.

These successes encourage more academic librarians to start OER initiatives, but a new obstacle, in the form of a response to OER from commercial publishers, stands to create new roadblocks on the path to student textbook affordability.

We’ve Seen This Before

Textbook publishers and sellers are feeling the impact of declining sales. Owing to multiple factors, including declining enrollment, textbook rentals, and students refusing to buy costly textbooks, the market for textbook sales is shrinking. Shifting faculty attitudes toward OER solutions are having an impact as well. With support from academic librarians, faculty are adopting OER and alternate learning content in greater numbers. Textbook publishers are feeling the impact. That means publishers need a different strategy, and their plans appear to parallel what’s happening in journal publishing. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em—or at least make it look that way (see: openwashing). That’s led to many dubious open access options that are costly to authors but allow publishers to claim they offer open options. Technically true, perhaps, but a solution that exacerbates rather than tackles the actual problem.

OER… Or Not Exactly

How exactly are traditional textbook publishers seeking to capitalize on OER? Take open textbooks. They’re open. That means anyone, including commercial publishers, can reuse and redistribute them. Nothing stops a commercial publisher from downloading a book from the Open Textbook Library and integrating it into a new product that mixes open and closed. At the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting, Barnes & Noble (B&N) was a first-time exhibitor. No coincidence, perhaps, given academic librarians’ deep involvement in promoting OER at their institutions, that B&N would show up to promote an OER learning resource. The BNED courseware platform combines OpenStax textbooks with a proprietary set of learning materials that includes instructor slides, notes, videos, test banks, and more. It was described to me as “OER software” by the B&N representative, but that is somewhat of a misnomer. I suspect the 5Rs of openness (retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute) do not apply to the non-OpenStax components of the courseware. “Access code” software, as described in this alarming Student PIRG report, is a more accurate label.

But here’s the conundrum for librarian OER advocates. The BNED courseware platform, utilizing OER, is considerably less expensive than a traditional textbook. At $50 per student for the access code content (plus $15 for an optional print version of the textbook) it compares favorably to a $200 textbook. One tradeoff for students is diminished access rights (e.g., no post-course access; no resale option). Still, these hybrid platforms, part OER, part access code content, could fit under the umbrella of textbook affordability. How should those of us who promote OER, alt-textbook projects, and other affordable textbook solutions to faculty incorporate publisher OER platforms into the affordability conversation? Just ignore it? Advocate in opposition to it? That may not work.

These Platforms Can’t Be Ignored

It may be in our nature to rail against publisher platforms, and some librarians may believe it is their responsibility as social justice advocates to demonize publishers for co-opting and bastardizing OER, as some journal publishers have corrupted open access. Breaking commercial publishers’ total control of learning content with the OER sledgehammer was neither easy nor inexpensive—and despite modest success, commercial textbooks still dominate. According to open education advocate David Wiley, it took years of effort and millions of dollars to create and introduce the OER we have today. Perhaps most difficult to overcome was faculty’s own reliance on commercial textbooks, to convince them to adopt OER. As supplemental learning content has exponentially expanded—slides, test banks, self-grading quizzes, and more—convincing faculty to adopt OER has only gotten harder. As Wiley puts it:

An OER advocate that walks into a faculty office and argues for them to trade their current arrangement (which increases the speed with which students receive feedback and decreases the time faculty spend grading) for static OER is going to sound like they understand very little about the realities of teachers and students. And they’re not going to be a very successful advocate.

If We Can’t Beat It

While he admits that there is much to dislike about publisher platforms like BNED Courseware, Cengage MindTap, or Pearson’s MyLab, particularly the limited access and locked down access code content, Wiley acknowledges that they have great appeal to faculty and some undeniably beneficial learning features for students. He says that “much of the OER movement has a bad attitude about platforms” but that “these systems…can make things better for students and faculty alike” and that “if the OER community doesn’t recognize that and start providing and promoting viable alternatives to publishers’ platforms” the future of OER looks bleak.

The path to the future may require librarian OER advocates to recognize that faculty need to balance their desire for affordable learning content with their need for convenience and time-saving learning content—and publisher platforms can deliver on that. As one faculty member said to me, “I don’t want an incentive of a few hundred dollars. I want time. Give me a course release and I’ll adopt OER.” In time, academic librarians, in partnership with faculty, university presses, and organizations like the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and the Open Textbook Network, may, as Wiley says we must, find viable alternatives to the publisher platform. But until then, we need to think carefully about how we position and present them as textbook affordability options.

From “Alternative” to “Affordable”

As commercial publishers make their way into the OER landscape, with attractively priced slick platforms that blend open and closed content, academic librarians will be challenged to clearly distinguish, for educators, what constitutes affordable learning content.

This is causing me to rethink my own institution’s efforts to advance faculty adoption of OER. Originally we offered an “alternative textbook project.” We incentivized faculty to create a set of learning materials customized to their course, using OER, licensed library content, and other accessible content. This spring it has been renamed The Textbook Affordability Project. For now, we will continue to support faculty who adopt open textbooks or create their own alternate textbook, but our conversations about textbook affordability may need to be more inclusive to incorporate publisher platforms.

Think Small Victories

If we fail to do so, ignoring Wiley’s advice to change our bad attitude about them, then faculty will learn about them anyway, from the bookstore or directly from publisher representatives. My preference would be to have a thorough grasp of publisher platforms so that I can explain to instructors how they work and where they fit into the overall spectrum of textbook affordability solutions. The platforms, however off-putting to OER advocates, may be the first step for some faculty to transition from their traditional expensive textbook to a more affordable—if not entirely student-friendly—option, and then eventually, we hope, to a fully OER solution.

Taking a small victory on textbook affordability that advances student academic success, even if it involves a publisher platform, is, to my way of thinking, a positive step in the direction of a better OER future for faculty, librarians, and our students. We may do ourselves and our academic community a disservice if we fail to take it.

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