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LETTER: Concerns about the gender-wage gap


salary_comparisonsAs members of the Union of Teaching Faculty, we want to thank Central Michigan Life for initiating a much-needed discussion about the gender-wage gap at Central Michigan University. We stand in solidarity with all those who are concerned about the lack of women holding full professorships, as well as the disparity of women making top wages on our campus.

As a union representing more than 320 contingent faculty, we recognize that CMU has made a legitimate effort to keep the number of tenure-track and tenured faculty above the national average of other universities. However, we’re concerned by Robert Roe's claim that “it’s a choice to be promoted.”

Thirty percent of the adjuncts we represent hold the highest degrees in their field. We know that at least 75 percent of us are conducting research, exhibiting work, supervising student teachers, serving on committees, teaching at other institutions or working other jobs, and participating in professional development. Most of these are also characteristics of tenured faculty, yet, adjuncts work from semester to semester or year to year with little security of employment or a full course load. Largely, we do not have a say in the classes we teach.

We are also concerned by Joshua Smith's idea that it's a woman's choice to “decide to start a family.”

Families come in many forms, but a woman, single or not, does not make the decision alone or without careful consideration. The idea that a woman’s children may “get in the way of research” is in part what prevents CMU, like many universities, from attracting more women into its ranks.

We raise these issues not to be antagonistic, but because we hope that these concerns will help open dialogue as we look toward a new contract next year. CMU has the opportunity to create space for more women in tenure-track positions by promoting already hard-working adjuncts, and time for the mothers and fathers who wish to raise their children and care for their families.

We look forward to many more meaningful and substantive conversations on this subject. We hope to see more in-depth coverage of this issue in CM Life’s pages in the future.

Hayden Golden, on behalf of The Union of Teaching Faculty