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Unions and Gender Pay Equity in Academe: A Study of U.S. Institutions


  • Kim Sosin
  • Janet Rives
  • Janet West


This paper uses 1994-95 faculty salary data from over 1,100 four-year U.S. academic institutions, about one-fourth of them with collective bargaining agreements, to ask if faculty unions make a difference to gender pay equity. Average gender salary differences are negative at every rank and at every category of U.S. institution with or without collective bargaining agreement. Unions may improve gender salary differentials somewhat, particularly at the assistant professor level. There is no evidence that this gain will be lost at higher levels, and mixed evidence that further gains occur for women at the full professor level. The most pervasive and robust consequence of unions is to increase the positive impact that higher proportions of women at senior faculty ranks make on relative salaries at the assistant professor level. However, the influence of these higher-ranked women on gender salary inequalities at the associate and full levels is lower in union schools than nonunion schools. By reducing the flexibility of existing salary structures, collective bargaining apparently reduces the influence of senior women faculty on the salaries of current women faculty members while increasing their attention and influence at entry levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Kim Sosin & Janet Rives & Janet West, 1998. "Unions and Gender Pay Equity in Academe: A Study of U.S. Institutions," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 25-45.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:4:y:1998:i:2:p:25-45
    DOI: 10.1080/135457098338419

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
    2. Johnson, George E & Stafford, Frank P, 1974. "The Earnings and Promotion of Women Faculty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 888-903, December.
    3. Brown, William W & Stone, Courtenay C, 1977. "Academic Unions in Higher Education: Impacts on Faculty Salary, Compensation and Promotions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(3), pages 385-396, July.
    4. Broder, Ivy E, 1993. "Professional Achievements and Gender Differences among Academic Economists," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(1), pages 116-127, January.
    5. Debra A. Barbezat, 1987. "Salary Differentials by Sex in the Academic Labor Market," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(3), pages 422-428.
    6. Hirsch, Barry T & Leppel, Karen, 1982. "Sex Discrimination in Faculty Salaries: Evidence from a Historically Women's University," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 829-835, September.
    7. repec:mes:challe:v:37:y:1994:i:4:p:11-18 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Richard B. Freeman, 1978. "Should We Organize? Effects of Faculty Unionism on Academic Compensation," NBER Working Papers 0301, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Lillydahl, Jane H. & Singell, Larry D., 1993. "Job satisfaction, salaries and unions: The determination of university faculty compensation," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 233-243, September.
    10. Barbezat, Debra A., 1991. "Updating estimates of male-female salary differentials in the academic labor market," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 191-195, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yin Hong, 2011. "Positive feedback trading, institutional investors and securities price fluctuation," China Finance Review International, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 1(2), pages 120-132, January.


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