Pay Equity Day is about the long-standing (we might say eternal) pay disparity between men and women in the workforce, and the majority – roughly 55% -- of PSU’s adjuncts identify as female.* Although we have no documentation of pay disparity by gender at PSU, we know that nationally women are disproportionately represented in the lowest paying faculty positions; this speaks to systemic gender bias. It’s hazy, but its effects are real. And fixing this problem requires acknowledging structural factors that lead some positions to be valued differently than others.
The story of pay disparity among PSU’s faculty has to do with the outrageous inequity among people who teach part-time and those who teach full-time. If we compare the difference between adjunct faculty and full-time, non-tenure track faculty (NTTF), the difference in one-month’s paycheck for the same four-credit class is $173, or 19%--if not even more!
Inequity adds up. It translates into late rent and sparse groceries, outdated electronics and cancelled subscriptions that have become essential to life and scholarship in the 21st century. Our NTTF colleagues have a better chance at keeping current in research and having a decent space to do all the work we do outside of “office hours.”
Today, PSU is resistant to investing in equity of working conditions, access to resources, and basic health benefits. In all, PSU ends up investing nine times as much on 963 NTTF as it does on its approximately 1337 adjunct faculty and researchers.
This is why we didn’t give in during the first collective bargaining sessions last week.
So on this Equity Day, we salute and support our Paycheck Sisters, for the years of poverty, humiliation, and discrimination they have faced and continue to face. We share your frustration and your determination to make things level.
*We acknowledge that the language in this message might fall prey to problematic notions of the gender binary; because we are working with demographic data provided by PSU, we are unable to reflect a diversity of genders and gender expression in our discussion of gender-based pay disparity.