I am always looking for data to prove my mo money and mo problems, hypotheses. Enter the UTexas situation. The issues are salary stipends and “forgivable loans” to attract and retain faculty, leading to growing faculty unrest. See? Income inequality = instability. For this blog though, I was interested to see, though, that part of the problem here was gender related:
There are also several sexual discrimination complaints filed by women at the law school in the 75-page long open records document that point to a gender pay gap. In a letter to Sager included in the documents, Professor Lynn Blais expresses concern that women are underrepresented on all the major governing committees at UT Law, including the budget committee responsible for setting faculty compensation. (source: Texas Tribune article linked above)
Are women underrepresented on your Fac Committees?
My twitter and RSS feeds are filled up with articles about why women face a pay gap and what we can do about it. A substantial number of these articles indicate that what we need to do, essentially, is be more hardass about it – negotiate more fiercely (read: more like male colleagues), demand what we are “worth”, and similar kinds of approaches (perhaps, the Sheryl Sandberg model? It’s not them – it’s us!) But these suggestions have a variety of problems. One of the problem zones is that the implication that gender pay gap problems in management and/or the professoriate ought to be solved by adjusting the bottom up – a solution which will clearly exacerbate other forms of income inequality that we might care about (as feminists), and are the subject of debate in other parts of our non-compartmentalized lives.
I know i’m not the only one who wonders how to ensure that my female colleagues get what they “deserve” without participating in compensation structures which ratchet upwards relentlessly, sometimes taking tuition fees with them. Likewise how to avoid the pull of a “star system” in academia, which brings with it salary pressure and a focus on the individual rather than the collective institutional strengths. Anyway, the Texas situation is interesting on a variety of levels and I hope that there is further discussion of the gender component here. The (now former) Dean’s letter in response is available here and on page 4 he turns to the gender issues (a task force!). The Dean’s partner is a feminist who teaches the subject at UT law. This should surprise no-one, since even”being” a feminist is not enough to stop me from making stupid, gender oppressive comments, decisions, and plans. Really, only active thinking on each point can hope to prevent such problems (see, e.g., the recent post on “gender mainstreaming”).
If you are interested, check out these documents provided by the Texas Tribune through an “Open Records” request. At pp30 is a settlement document involving a female faculty member and at 74 is a lovely letter from Prof. Blais (quoted above) to the Dean. There are also pages and pages of numbers which no doubt speak volumes if you know the lingo.
Here’s another thought: interest convergence. Reliably dirt-digging and rankings focused blog above the law has this from the law student angle (“why is this happening during finals?!”). Ah, ATL. Reliable. As in, “While the administration and professors seem wholly unconcerned with the timing of their faculty hissy fit, …”. No, no, you’re not missing anything. My go to Urban Dictionary online defines hissy fit as “A sudden outburst of temper, often used to describe female anger at something trivial”.
Yet at the same time, there seems to be another lurking issue, one which appears more likely (call me a cynic) to have actually created the conditions under which a dean could be removed:
There have long been rumors of friction between Sager and the “good ol’ boys” network at UT. But many students who have benefited from Sager’s policies — in the form of better employment options at a wider range of firms and geographic locations — have acknowledged that Sager is doing what it takes to get ahead in the law school world.
For Sager, who would probably have a statue erected for him at Emory, or USC, or any school looking to break out of regional typecasting, it seems like his relationship with the president has been difficult. From the Tribun
There’s a plausible hypothesis! Gaps in pay (gender and otherwise) are what it takes!
In other not completely unrelated news, U Texas law has a Center for Women and the Law which produced “The Austin Manifesto” in 2009. The Center says it is “…the premier educational institution devoted to the success of the entire spectrum of women in law, from first-year law students to the most experienced and accomplished attorneys.” (source). An interesting model. Here’s an article describing the founding of the Center (from an alum magazine).