CUPA-HR Report Provides Update on African American Faculty Representation and Pay Equity

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) has recently released a new report that outlines the current state of African American representation and pay equity among faculty across the United States. The report analyzes data from the CUPA-HR Faculty in Higher Education Survey, examining demographic data of both tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty in the 2016-2017 academic year compared to the 2022-2023 academic year.

In the past seven years, there has been little improvement in the representation of Black faculty in tenure-track positions across the United States, particularly in senior faculty ranks. During the 2016-2017 academic year, African Americans represented 5.5 percent of assistant professors, 5.0 percent of associate professors, and 3.3 percent of full professors. In the 2022-2023 academic year, the share of African American tenure-track faculty only increased to 7.9 percent for assistant professors, 5.2 percent for associate professors, and 3.5 percent for full professors. White male professors are the only group whose representation grows with increases in professor rank.

Overall, the study found both Black men and women faculty members’ pay is on par, or exceeded that of White male faculty members among all tenure-track professor ranks as of the 2023 academic year. Compared to every $1 made by their White male peers, Black men and women assistant professors earned $1.04 and $1.03, associate professors earned $1.02 and $1.04, and full professors earned $1.02 and $1.00, respectively. However, this pay equity is not seen among all academic disciplines, especially among STEM fields. One of the largest disparities in pay was seen in the health science field, with Black women faculty only making $0.70 for every $1 made by their White male counterparts.

For non-tenure track positions, the report found little progress has been made in African American faculty representation. In 2016, Black faculty represented 5.1 percent of non-tenure track positions. In 2023, this only increased to 6.2 percent. Additionally, the study results showed pay equity has improved among African American women in non-tenure track positions. For every $1 earned by White male non-tenure track faculty, Black women’s pay increased from $0.96 in 2016 to $0.98 in 2023. The pay of Black men in non-tenure track positions has fluctuated during the past seven years, but currently stands on par with Black women as of 2023.

The report offers recommendations for how higher education leaders and human resources departments can work towards achieving equity among both non-tenure and tenure-track faculty. The authors suggest institutions examine their promotion process for tenure-track faculty, conduct regular pay equity audits, and establish funding initiatives specifically targeted at underrepresented groups. They also recommend college and university leaders prioritize inclusive retention strategies, such as clearly outlining opportunities for advancement, recognition, and professional development, as well as offer flexible working options that create a more inclusive environment.

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