Exploring workplace gender discrimination

Prottusha Sarkar, Contributing Reporter

Case Western Reserve University is a place where everyone is given a fair shot, for both men and women. Unfortunately, this may not be the case everywhere you go. Federal statistics from 2015 show that the median pay gap between men and women across the country is 20 cents. In other words, about half of women across the United States earn only 80 cents or less to the dollar of a man.

Donna Davis Reddix, a diversity faculty officer, recently gave a talk about female faculty discrimination at CWRU. On Oct. 6 in the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, Reddix gave a speech titled “Knowing Your Rights in the Workplace.” She covered some basic points about faculty discrimination such as implicit bias, salary equity, gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

Salary equity concerns the fact mentioned above, that about 50 percent of women get paid 20 cents or more less per dollar than men do. But is this what happens at CWRU? According to a survey conducted by the American Association of University Professors, a full-time female professor at CWRU is usually paid $132,700 and a full-time male professor is usually paid $143,600. This shows a gap of $10,900, but the survey doesn’t account for various other factors that can lead to this salary discrepancy, such as the differing pay grades between academic disciplines.

Besides the gender pay gap, Reddix said that there are also other “elements of discrimination” against female faculty. Comments degrading a woman’s talents or ideas and excessive focus on her appearance is one such example. At CWRU, however, Rachel Sternberg, associate professor and director of Graduate Certificate Program, says that “[she] doesn’t see a lot of that here” in regards to blatant sexism.

To create an environment where women feel comfortable to live and work, there must be support. Sternberg notes that the Center for Women is a great voice in this area, saying it has “speakers on various topics” and “encourages networking between female faculty.” Sternberg recognizes that a network of any kind can be powerful, but when women come together to share ideas or simply stand up for what they believe in, it can be an incredible system of support for everyone involved.

There is only so much that an institution can do, however, before it comes time for people to get involved. “Discrimination is not tolerated on our campus,” Reddix said, and adding that people who witness such acts should not hesitate to report them.

Sternberg added that “men need to become more inclusive and more sensitive” to issues that concern gender discrimination. In short, discrimination is everyone’s problem, and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that female and male faculty at CWRU are treated equally.