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Broken Link Between Pay and Productivity for Women in STEM

September 16, 2022

A preprint study on the link between scholarly performance and compensation finds that cumulative research productivity was more strongly related to compensation for men versus women—but only in STEM fields, not in the social and behavioral sciences. In STEM, women with the relatively high h-index productivity and citation measure of 49 were paid $6,000 less than their male counterparts at that level, for example. The authors, who studied 3,033 researchers from 17 research-intensive universities, recommend that institutions update their compensation formulas and perform routine pay-equity analyses.

Co-author Christiane Spitzmüller, vice provost for academic affairs and strategy at the University of California, Merced, told Science that existing research suggests that the h-index metric favors men in many ways, and that her own study therefore probably underestimates gendered differences in pay. “You probably have an even starker effect for women who … do more on dimensions that are not rewarded with a high h-index,” such as mentoring and other service work, she said.

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Colleen Flaherty

Colleen Flaherty, Reporter, covers faculty issues for Inside Higher Ed. Prior to joining the publication in 2012, Colleen was military editor at the Killeen Daily Herald, outside Fort Hood, Texas. Before that, she covered government and land use issues for the Greenwich Time and Hersam Acorn Newspapers in her home state of Connecticut. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal in 2005 with a degree in English literature, Colleen taught English and English as a second language in public schools in the Bronx, N.Y. She earned her M.S.Ed. from City University of New York Lehman College in 2008 as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program. 

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