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Unequal Pay for Equal Work? The Gender Gap for Principals

Does the wage gap among men and women extend to school principals? A new study finds this is the case, even though female principals on average report they work longer hours than their male counterparts. In Unequal Pay for Equal Work? Unpacking the Gender Gap in Principal Compensation, Jason A. Grissom, Jennifer D. Timmer, and Jennifer L. Nelson of Vanderbilt University, and Richard S.L. Blissett of Seton Hall University explore the pay disparity between male and female principals by investigating compensation rates using state and national data.

The team studied the personnel records that were filed over time in Missouri and compared them to a national survey of schools across the country, the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). The Missouri data showed that female principals made $1,400 less per year than their male counterparts. Nationally, according to the SASS, female principals make $900 less than the men.

The team did further analysis to try to explain this wage disparity and found that level of training, number of hours worked, and mobility in the workplace only account for some of the disparity. For example, they found that women reported working almost an hour and a half more per week than the men did, according to the national data. The researchers determined that discrimination based on gender did and does play a role in creating and sustaining the wage gap. The disparity is not insignificant: They concluded that over the course of six years, the average tenure for a Missouri principal, a man would earn around $7,100 more than a female colleague.

By Caroline Berner