Tag Archives: gender inequality

Image: Lestatdelc, via Wikipedia, Creative Commons 3.0

by Linda Grant

A recent report by a steering committee at University of California-Berkeley, praised for its methodological rigor, provides gratifying news that gender gaps in faculty salaries appear to be diminishing on that campus. At the same time, the report underscores the complexity of the issue as one looks across disciplines and highlights the difficulties in devising effective strategies to eliminate lingering inequalities.  

An article about the report appearing in Inside Higher Education suggests strong administrative commitment to gender pay equity. Vice-Provost for Faculty, Janet Broughton, commented that UCB sought to create a “richly inclusive culture” and a “ salary program that can let us progress toward our equity ideals.” I find it heartening that her comments acknowledge that salary equity and supportive institutional climates are properly the responsibility of administrators and not, as too often has been the case, problems that must be addressed by the victims of inequities.

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For the past eight years, we have  been working to address an important question: Why has the gender revolution seemed  to stall?  Our review of data from a  range of sources  suggests that during the 1990s, our society’s substantial progress toward general gender equality was indeed slowed, stopped, or even reversed on any number of fronts, including  employment, earnings, occupational and educational segregation, gender attitudes, housework, and political office holding.

We, along with others, have documented and commented on these trends in several places (see links below). One issue we have addressed is the complexity of these trends: While some of the indicators show signs of a “rebound” in the 2000s, other indicators do not.  But what we have struggled with most may well be the timing of these trends. Why did the equalizing trend of the 1970s and 1980s give way to stalled progress beginning in the 1990s?  The pattern is all the more puzzling, in that one might have expected the slowing to have occurred during the Backlash/Reagan-era 1980s rather than the 1990s.

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