The salary gap between male and female faculty members at the University of Maryland's College Park campus narrowed by 6.8 percent between the 1981 and 1982 school years, according to a study released recently by the university.
Women's salaries averaged $433 less than that of "similarly situated" men in 1982, compared with $481 less in 1981. The total salary disparity between male and female faculty members declined from $95,231 in 1981 to $88,711 in 1982, the study said. Salaries for 1982-83 are currently being studied.
The earlier figures do not encourage economics professor Barbara Bergmann, who chairs Committee W, a campus women's faculty group. Bergmann said the university's conclusion that women's salaries are coming closer to men's salaries "is silly."
"They've instituted a process of annual review, but very little has happened," said Bergmann. "They're just going through the motions without doing anything substantive."
Committee W filed sex discrimination charges against the university in 1980 that are still pending before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Bergmann said the group's original goal was to close the salary gap immediately.
"These things are never a simple matter of extrapolation," said College Park Chancellor John Slaughter. "Making a one-shot correction does not resolve--and sometimes it exacerbates--the problem. We are trying to eliminate the causes. We will continue to monitor the problem till those obstacles to fair and equitable pay have been eliminated."
The study compared the salaries of the 205 women and 1,004 men who hold doctoral degrees at the rank of assistant professor, associate professor or full professor, according to Marilyn Brown, director of the campus Institutional Studies Office, which prepared the study.
The salary disparities were computed by comparing individual women's salaries to a predicted salary based on the earnings of men with equal academic rank in similar fields. In addition, salary comparisons were made only among men and women who earned their doctoral degrees in the same year, Brown said.
But Bergmann said that by evaluating all women professionally by comparing them to men, the university's formula fails to take into account women who are outstanding in their field. "Doesn't it occur to them that some salaries should be higher than the predicted salary?" she said.
Brown acknowledged that in the case of academic "stars," the study's methodology would not show a disparity. "When there are very well-qualified women who are paid the same as men, it would not show up," Brown said.
The study does not account for all the differences between women's actual salaries and their predicted salaries because salary levels are affected by a number of factors not easily quantified, Brown said.
But Brown also pointed out that women in some of the university's academic fields earn higher average salaries than similarly situated men.
Women in the arts and humanities division earned an average of $212 more than men in 1982, compared with $17 more in 1981, the study indicated.
Despite the improvement, the study also showed that women in many fields are losing ground. In the mathematics, physical sciences and engineering divisions the salary gap between men and women widened from $2,333 in 1981 to $3,131 last year. Women in architecture, journalism and library science earned an average of $4,127 less than men in 1982, compared with $2,546 in 1981.
"They are taking advantage of our quietism, patience and preoccupation with our professional life," said Bergmann.