Data pertaining to the salary ranges of Wits academics has revealed that female academics are earning disproportionately less than their male colleagues.

Wits management reluctantly released figures this week that indicated a discrepancy in salaries after the Academic Staff Association of Wits University (Asawu) used the Promotion of Access to Information Act to take Wits to the CCMA, for the second time in a year.

The data which was published on Asawu’s official website shows that female academics are earning between 2 and 5.6% less than male academics across all grades. These numbers translate into female lecturers earning up to R24 500 per annum less than male lecturers in the same grade.

Asawu has accused management of lacking transparency over salaries and says that these figures are the result of managerial neglect whereby control over appropriate salary structuring has been abandoned.

Determined to put forward concrete proposals in this year’s annual wage negotiations, Asawu president Prof. David Dickinson said they would be asking for a settlement that not only takes into account raising academic salaries to the 75th percentile of the tertiary education sector benchmark, but also looks at discrepancies within ranks and the gender imbalances that the data uncovered.

“This will mean a more complex wage settlement than in previous years where a single figure (for academics) has been awarded. At this stage we do not know if management will be willing to consider such a solution to the current wage discrepancies identified,” Dickinson said.

Elaine Milton, director of employee relations at Wits, told Vuvuzela that management has noted the statistics and is committed to employment

equity.

“The Transformation and Equity Office will work together with the Faculty and Central HR Managers and the Remuneration and Benefits Office to investigate and ascertain if there is any unfair discrimination in remuneration practices that may have contributed to the current situation,” said Milton, adding that the Transformation Office has recently developed a draft Employment Equity Plan for the institution which she says will no doubt propose further strategies in this regard.

Wage negotiations between ASAWU and Wits management are set to commence this week and will be chaired by an independent body in the hope for better mediation between the two parties, after last year’s negotiations turned sour and academics threatened to strike.

Studies show that unequal salaries for men and women isn’t unique to Wits and that women in the workplace are generally paid less than males.

An analysis of census data conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in 2009 shows the pay gap between men and women, which was once thought to be narrowing, has only been getting worse. Women make 75.5c for every rand that men earn.

The news is not good for young women starting new jobs either. A separate study released last week found the average Class of 2010 female with a bachelor’s degree received a starting salary 17% less than her male peer.