Women professors at the University of Maryland receive an average annual salary $2,362 less than their male colleagues, according to a preliminary study by the university administration.

The figures, compiled by the university's institutional studies office, appear to support claims of sex discrimination contained in a complaint against the school now under investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

"Being male adds a significant amount to a faculty members' salary," according to the study, but the findings "do not support a contention that a systematic sex bias in faculty salaries exists at UMCP."

Frank Schmidtlein, supervisor of the study, said "the differences between male and female studies may be the result not of sex but other variables that were not included in the study" such as years of experience and scholarship.

University officials have sent a draft of their study to the state attorney general's office for advice and said they hope to use it in a final report to the EEOC in an effort to refute a class-action complaint by a committee of campus professors.

"Yes, there is a discrepancy between men's and women's average faculty salary," said College Park Chancellor Robert L. Gluckstern. "We are trying to remove the nondiscriminatory differences."

Last May "Committee W," a coalition of 17 members from the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors brought sex discrimination charges against the university "on behalf of all women employed on the College Park campus," asking $300,000 in restitution for faculty pay differences.

The committee's complaint also charged that men handling certain administrative duties have higher salaries and titles, while women doing the same work are paid less and referred to as "secretaries." The group also charged that women were excluded from jobs involving technical skills.

Gluckstern noted that the administration's study is limited to salary comparisons between the 1,088 male and 208 female professors at the university's main campus, and said he is "not responding" to the other claims by the faculty group.

The campus administration started looking into pay disparities long before the EEOC complaint was lodged against them, Gluckstern said.

Barbara Bergmann, a campus economics professor who heads Committee W and submitted her own salary study with the EEOC complaint, called the discrepancies "rewards for maleness and penalties for femaleness, pure and simple."