OCUFA meets with Ontario’s Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee

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On Friday, February 12th representatives from four OCUFA member associations met with the provincial government’s Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee to discuss measures that have been taken in the university sector to address the gender wage gap. This meeting built on the written brief that OCUFA submitted to the committee on January 15th.

The Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee was struck in April 2015 and tasked with undertaking broad public consultations and developing recommendations to create a strategy to close the gender wage gap in Ontario. The Steering Committee put out a call for written submissions, has hosted public town hall meetings across the province, and has been meeting with key stakeholders to hear about the specific challenges and successes that organizations have faced in addressing the gender wage gap in their workplaces.

On January 15, OCUFA submitted a written brief to the Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee. The submission noted that while the gender wage gap among university faculty has been slowly shrinking over the past thirty years, women nonetheless continue to earn around 90 per cent of what their male colleagues earn. Moreover, women are overrepresented in the ranks of poorly paid, precariously employed contract faculty members. The OCUFA submission also highlights the salary anomaly review process, which exists at many but not all universities across the province. This process has been key to addressing the gender wage gap in the university sector.

Experiences from five salary review processes reviewed in the submission suggest that the availability of central administration funding (rather than funding from the departmental or faculty level) is crucial for ensuring that salary reviews are effective in addressing the gender wage gap. Transparency in the salary review process, through a model that allows for joint employer/faculty oversight, is also key, as is the role of faculty associations in advocating for these kinds of reviews. Based on the experience from the university sector, the report outlines promising directions for the government to consider in addressing the gender wage gap. These include government support for the expansion of the salary review process and improving the terms and conditions of employment for contract faculty, among others.

In the meeting on February 12, faculty association representatives focused on their university’s experience with the salary review process and its effect on the gender wage gap. The discussion ranged from technical details of model specification, to challenges in accessing data, to the importance of joint faculty/employer oversight of the process. Of particular interest were the importance of ensuring transparency in starting salaries. This would allow the salary review process to address the gender wage gap in an enduring way, by providing university administrations with a clear model for determining starting salaries based on the regression calculations from previous anomaly reviews.

OCUFA welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the steering committee’s consultations and looks forward to reading their recommendations for how Ontario can eliminate the gender wage gap.

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