Gender equity-economics report shows increase of women in Pitt’s higher ranks


A gender equity report recently presented to the Senate Budget Policies committee providing snapshots of the economic and hierarchical status of women faculty at Pitt from the 2021-22 academic year reveals what Amanda Brodish, who presented and interpreted the report at the committee’s April 21 meeting, called “a lot of good news.”

“We’re seeing the percent of women at higher ranks continuing to increase on the Pittsburgh campus (and) seeing our salary ratios hovering around 100 percent,” said Brodish, associate vice provost for data analytics. “On the regional campuses, there is more variability in these ratios, but they do tend to hover around 100 percent.

“And we’re seeing the percent of women in various leadership positions continue to increase, especially when we look at the Board of Trustees — voting members as well as department and division chairs.”

The report, which benchmarks Pitt alongside public Association of American Universities (AAU) institutions, also reveals opportunities for improvements.

“Notably on the Pittsburgh campus, we’re seeing some lower salary ratios for our full professors, both appointment stream as well as tenure and tenure stream,” Brodish said. “And on our regional campuses we’re seeing lower salary ratios for our tenure (and) tenure-stream full professors and for our appointment-stream instructors and lecturers.”

Brodish is presenting the report, which the provost’s office has conducted for more than 20 years at three-to-five-year intervals, to various campus groups as well as sharing unit-specific results with deans and regional-campus presidents.

“Our benchmarking component looks at the percent of women faculty by rank at Pitt compared to peers as well as the ratio of the average woman’s salary to the average man’s salary by rank at Pitt versus peer institutions,” she explained.

The report’s internal analysis provides a look at the percent of women faculty by rank and tenure status. “And we can also dig into those salary ratios to control for things like tenure status, school and department. We also look at the percentage of various leadership roles held by women.”

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) provides data for the report’s benchmark piece on economic status, including six snapshots going back to 1998-99. Other institutions include Penn State, University of Michigan, University of Virginia and the University of California system schools.

The report includes all full-time faculty — including appointment stream, tenured and tenure stream — who have instructional responsibilities. Based on reporting requirements, the report excludes part-time and non-instructional faculty, administrators and deans, graduate student teaching assistants or fellows, as well as School of Medicine faculty.

Women faculty at Pitt

The first category is the percentage of all Pitt faculty who are women, showing that Pitt, with 49 percent of women faculty members, tops its AAUP peer institutions.

“When we turn to this pattern across time, you’ll see across this 25-year window, the percent of all faculty who are women has increased fairly steadily both for our AAUP public peers, as well as for the University,” Brodish observed.

Women comprise 33 percent of full professors at Pitt, placing it in the “top third, top half of the AAUP public distribution,” she said. “And when we look across time, we see a really nice 5 percentage-point increase between 2018 and 2021. This is a pattern we are seeing across the AAUP public institutions, and we’re also increasing on the Pittsburgh campus as well.”

The report shows 47 percent of Pitt’s associate professors are women, placing the University in the top third of the distribution relative to AAUP peers. The report’s 20-plus year time horizon reveals an increase between 1998 and about 2018, “and we’ve leveled out over the past two years, the past two snapshots of data that I’ve shared here, at about 47 percent.”

Women comprise 55 percent of Pitt’s assistant professors, also in the top third of the AAUP public distribution, holding a little above 50 percent across the report’s timeline. Sixty percent of instructors and lecturers, which the report groups together, are women, with a decline evident through the report timeline.

Brodish said a primary takeaway is that Pitt is seeing an increasing number of women who are full professors. “In order to be a full professor, you needed to be an associate professor first, so I think we are seeing the translation of the increase in associate professors who are women becoming an increase in full professors who are women.”

In response to questions related to interpreting numbers and trends from the report, Brodish resisted drawing broad conclusions.

“I imagine there are more interpretations that we could lend, and I’m not sure this analysis is designed to address those types of questions. I think I’d want to do a different analysis to do that,” she explained.

Brodish also demurred on a question about whether Pitt schools are actively accelerating women’s promotions from associate to full professor, but noted that, in her time with the provost’s office, “there have been a number of efforts designed to help mid-career women make that transition from associate professor to a full professor.”

“Laurie Kirsch, when she was the vice provost for faculty affairs, did a lot of work particularly targeting that group of women,” Brodish added, “and I think what we may be seeing is that sort of coming to fruition, with some of those increases in the percent of full professor.”

Salary ratios

The charts Brodish presented showed not a lot of movement in salary ratios for all female faculty members at Pitt.

“When we look at this salary ratio for all women, we see it’s at 78-79 percent, which it has been for Pitt over this 25-year period — not a lot of change across this period,” she said. “It is important to keep in mind that we’re comparing relatively diverse groups of faculty with respect to rank, tenure, status, disciplines (and) so forth.”

The salary ratio is calculated by looking at the average woman’s salary “and using that as the numerator over the average man’s salary,” she said.

The resulting 88 percent ratio for full professors has been “pretty consistent” across the 25-year period. The ratio for associate professors is 94 percent, with a 90 percent ratio for assistant professors, both holding “pretty steady,” Brodish said. Assistant professors, however, showed a “little bit more variability” through the time period.

Lecturers and instructors are at 93 percent. “If I had to put a line through these data, it would probably be a decreasing line across this period,” she said. “But our peer institutions are kind of all over the place as well.”

After the presentation, Senate Council President Robin Kear, a liaison librarian, told University Times she was disappointed that Pitt doesn’t show a higher ratio of women’s salaries after so much time. 

“I was most disheartened to see that we’re on the lower end among peer institutions regarding women’s salaries,” she said. “The ratio of women’s salaries in that comparison hasn’t changed much in 25 years.”

Kear also would like to see a gender equity report annually rather than every five years. “It would be nice to have this data be accessible every year,” she added, in order to examine the gender pay gap for staff and look at ways to improve it. “It would be nice  to see a plan for improvement that comes from this data.”

Internal analysis

For the report’s internal analysis, Brodish used numbers from Pitt’s Human Resources data warehouse. Rather than restricted to faculty reported to the AAUP, the data applies to full-time faculty on all University campuses. “So this allows us to include our regional campuses in the analysis, as well as the data for our faculty within the School of Medicine.

We feel like it’s important, where we can, to include all of our full-time faculty in this particular analysis,” she added of data going back to 2005. “So here, we’re looking at a slightly smaller time window of data.”

As opposed to benchmarking analyses that only considered the percent of women by each rank, this analysis combines rank and tenure status with salary ratios for factors like tenure status, school and department where possible, as well as the percentage of various leadership roles held by women.

Including the School of Medicine, the chart showed the following percentages of women faculty: 

  • Full professors: 27 percent

  • Associate professors: 45

  • Assistant professors: 52

  • Instructors and lecturers: 60

“When we further segment this as a function of tenure status, we see a slightly smaller share of women at each of the faculty ranks when we’re looking at tenure and tenure status, and a larger share of women in the appointment stream,” Brodish said.

On Pitt’s regional campuses, the percentages of female professors break down as follows:

  • All full-time faculty: 47 percent

  • Full professors: 27

  • Associate professors: 44

  • Assistant professors: 46

  • Instructors and lecturers: 62

“And when we further segment this as a function of tenure status, we see that a larger share of appointment-stream faculty are women and a smaller share of tenure-stream faculty are women,” Brodish said, “and that’s a pattern we saw in the Pittsburgh campus as well.”

To make the barrage of data in this section of the report more digestible and relevant, Brodish spent less time on the raw salary ratios, which she said are “just comparing really big groups to each other. But the committee has told us that they like to see these numbers across time, so we do include this.”

What she called more interesting is explained on a slide where each column adds an additional level of control factor to the salary ratio. While the first column represents unadjusted salary where “we’re not controlling for anything,” the next column only includes tenured or tenure-stream faculty in the analysis.

Brodish’s analysis compares women in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences who are full professors and tenured, to their male counterparts, doing that for each of the schools, calculating a ratio and weighting those ratios based on the number of faculty in the school. “And when we do that, we see that the salary ratios come up even more. And what we’re doing is equating for, controlling for, salary differences by school.”

Breaking out some of the larger schools into their sub departments, “we see that the salary ratios get even closer to 100 percent” and even higher in several cases.

“The way I’ve always thought about this study — this is probably the fourth time I’ve done this study — is that we are never going to hit 100 percent for each of these ratios … But we want to be to a place where we have just as many salary ratios over 100 percent as we do under 100 percent,” seeking an average level of 100.

“And that’s what we are seeing in this analysis. That ratio is lower than 100 percent for our tenure, tenure-stream and full professors,” she said, “but it’s above 100 percent for our tenure, tenure-stream associate and assistant professors.”

Looking at other iterations of the analysis across the 15-year period shows a slight decline in this ratio for full professors, but a small increase in ratios for associate and assistant professors.

Women in leadership roles

Data in the report reveals that about a third of the Pitt’s Board of Trustees voting members are women. “I was really excited to see these numbers, because for the past few years, we really held steady at 20 percent and weren’t seeing much change across this period,” Brodish said.

While the report shows some small declines since 2019 in the percentage of women who are senior administrators and provost senior staff, there is — at 40 percent and 45 percent, respectively — still “a robust number of women holding these positions,” Brodish said. “And when we turn to deans and regional campus presidents, we now see that 56 percent of this group are women.”

Regarding department and division chairs, data show that women make up slightly less than a third of the department and division chairs at the Pitt, with what Brodish calls slight variations highlighted “as a function of the Dietrich School versus provost-area schools versus Health Sciences.”

Overall, Brodish found much to be enthused about in the latest gender equity report. “The percent of women at the higher ranks continues to increase, salary ratios controlling for key variables hover around 100 percent, and the percent of women in leadership roles continues to increase, especially in the Board of Trustees and department/division chairs.

“There are a few salary ratios we will investigate a bit more (such as) full professors across the campuses, but overall, there is excellent news!”

Shannon O. Wells is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at


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