Strange Statistics on Professors’ Salaries

We can’t find any creationism news today, but take a look at this: Gender, Ethnic Studies profs earn about $12k more than peers. It’s posted at a website we’ve never visited before — Campus Reform — which describes itself as: “America’s leading site for college news.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Professors of subjects such as Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies are largely outearning those that teach more traditional subjects like math and science, according to a new analysis.

What’s going on here? Then they say:

A report released by The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) reveals that the average salary for professors of “Area, Ethnic, Cultural, Gender, and Group Studies” during the 2017-2018 academic year was about $15,000 more per year more than for Biology, Math & Stats, and Science professors.

They provide a link to the report: Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty Salaries. Lots of data there, but we’ll stick with the article we found. It tells us:

According to the report, “Area, Ethnic, Cultural, Gender, and Group Studies” professors earned an average of $105,656 last year, while professors of Physical Sciences earned only $90,422. Mathematics and Statistics professors made an average of $89,691, and Biology and biomedical professors earned just $88,792.

This strikes us as very odd. Perhaps we’re looking at it all wrong, but it seems to us that universities should pay more for people who have significant opportunities for employment in the private sector. That appears to be the case with professors of law, but we’re struggling to imagine that there is much demand in private industry for an expert in gender studies.

Hey — it could be worse. Other than bible colleges and creationist outfits like ICR, AIG, and the Discoveroids, there doesn’t seem to be any demand for professors of creation science. At least the study doesn’t provide any data on that subject.

Anyway, that’s the only news we could find — at least for now. Make of it what you will.

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12 responses to “Strange Statistics on Professors’ Salaries

  1. Market forces, supply and demand. Universitiies are competing for paying students, so seek to provide the courses students are looking to buy. And the supply of professors in some disciplines is limited.

    This is entirely straightforward; I marvel that our Curmudgeon finds it curious. The market isn’t a mechanism to determine anything other than market values.

    Of course, if one is looking for other values–one needs to look elsewhere…

  2. Megalonyx,
    If you do a little research from places like Campus Reform and FIRE you’ll find that the shift to promote Gender Studies and other pomo subjects isn’t necessarily a matter of market competition. There’s quite a bit of top down pressure from university admins threatened with accusations of racism, privilege and misogyny. SJWs are a vocal minority and they’re forcing changes on campus and elsewhere. Not always for the better.

  3. CUPA data in my experience, and that’s over a decade ago, are often unreliable, with arbitrary categories that can make comparisons difficult if not I’m possible. And, there’s the issue of add-ons to base and how they are reported. What I know for certain is that there is large variation within disciplines and means can be distorted by highly paid outliers. Far too many faculty are underpaid.

  4. @ Paul S: Full disclosure: I’m not an educator, and my own progress through higher education (BA in the States, MA in the UK) was so long ago as to likely be irrelevant to situation today, and I had to look up ‘SJW’ as the acronym (though not the phenomenon) is not in common parlance here. So I am happy to be corrected where I am in error on this topic, and would welcome links to articles relevant to your contention.

    If you are claiming that advocacy by ‘SJW’s is inflating demand for some courses at university level, that’s one thing–and that may very well be the case for all I know. But that’s no different IMHO to adverstising or other marketing promotion undertaken by producers of consumer goods. That consumers (of goods or services) can be influenced to make purchasing choices which I might happen to think are poor ones is neither here nor there. There’s not really a very interesting argument in this.

    But I am sceptical if your claim is stronger than this: that is, either that ‘SJW”s are demanding higher salaries for professors of selected disciplines, and/or have such power to secure such higher remuneration for them. But as I said, I am happy to stand corrected.

  5. I’m not quite sure what this topic has to do with the main interest of this blog, but I suppose the same segments of the conspiracy-minded right which support the idea that Darwinism is a plot against God would be drawn to this sort of thing.

  6. Another possibility — just a(n) hypothesis, but perhaps the difference can be explained by different types of universities where the gender and cultural studies profs are employed compared to the science profs.

    I didn’t look at the stats, but if the study just averaged all gender profs and all science profs, regardless of where they work, it wouldn’t be a valid comparison. To be accurate, the study should compare salaries within the same institution. It could be that gender and culture profs are disproportionally found mostly at the larger, more academically-oriented universities (say, ivy league), whereas every podunk college, minor state U. and jr. college has math and science depts. They don’t pay as well.

  7. Another possibility — someone might be trying to stir up dissent. Wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened on the internet.

  8. We know that Campus Reform is a right-wing pressure group. Maybe they have a lot to bring pressure about in this instance; maybe not. I don’t think it’s good practice to quote their conclusions about anything without drilling down. I would say the same of a left-wing pressure group.

    One obvious question is whether they are comparing like with like. In many disciplines, professors in US universities (of which I was myself once one) receive a nine-month salary, which would be the published figure, which they could supplement from research grants, paying themselves a salary in the summer, and/or from summer teaching. We would need to know whether this was taken into account.

  9. Retired Prof

    It’s also possible that faculty members who take positions in gender studies and other such specialties move up from mere teaching duties to administrative roles. Their main appointment may be in a poorly-paid discipline such as English or history, but when made responsible for a program in gender studies or multicultural awareness, they move up a couple of rungs. In addition to the additional income from time served during summer employment mentioned by Paul Braterman, administrators generally get paid at a higher rate than ordinary academic department members. When tallied statistically, they may be dropped from the category of their original discipline and counted only with the program they administer.

  10. @Megalonyx

    I suspect that there are two “stealth” components to @Paul S‘s argument regarding the reported discrepancies in professors’ salaries:

    1. an assumption that “professors of “Area, Ethnic, Cultural, Gender, and Group Studies” ” are universally women/LGBTQ/racial minorities themselves, leading to

    2. an assertion that these professors are the unworthy beneficiaries of favored treatment by “university admins threatened with accusations of racism, privilege and misogyny”, initiated or egged on by “SJWs”.

    Or were you just being polite?

  11. Techreseller

    I think retiredsciguy is on to something. Small independent and small state schools do not have Gender Group studies. Only large or selective universities have those. Plus many science and math profs have other jobs. My alma mater hired part time physics profs from Langley AFB. Had literal rocket scientists teaching physics up the road from their regular job. My son’s chemical engineering prof had a full time job doing chemical engineering and came into the school to teach. And it was a very prestigious state school in Virginia.