February 20, 2024


These years of pandemic, far from narrowing the gender wage gap, the difference between the average wages earned by men and women, a key indicator in terms of equality in the workplace, has grown in the academic environment, according to the data provided. for him Study of the gender wage gap in Spanish public universities, which was presented this Tuesday at the branch ministry. In two years the general average gap has risen from 10.9% to 12.7%. In the highly regulated base salary, the difference is around 2%, and it grows when it comes to supplements (production, management or scientific leadership). In this case, the difference has gone from 16.9% to 19.1% between 2021 and 2023; but there are some universities in which it reaches 37%.

“This is an exercise in honesty to show the undeniable problems and fix them”, acknowledged the Minister of Universities, Joan Subirats, at the event. Twenty public campuses participated in the 2021 pilot study and this time there were 48, all except the two international ones.

The salary gap not only takes its toll on the pocket, in the long run it affects the progression of the research and teaching career of the academics, who need to accumulate research merits to access a better position. The pandemic has been especially damaging for them. Different international studies showed that, months after the start of the pandemic, the scientific production of women suffered and was reflected in the bibliometric data. A study by the Complutense University, based on a survey among its professors, showed that while they dedicated their time to students confined at home and to caring for minors and the elderly, they took advantage of the confinement to finish the articles they had pending.

The differences are not in the base

At the base of the academic pyramid there is no difference between men and women. There are the same number and their salary situation is similar, but as age increases, the distribution of men and women becomes more asymmetrical in favor of them, especially among those over 50 years of age (in 75% of the cases, they are more than 55% of the total). And it is especially reflected in the best positions: three out of four professors, the highest step, are men. Although the average gap in the complements is 19.1%, one of the four authors, Mari Luz de la Cal, points out that there is great heterogeneity between the campuses, so that in many it exceeds 37%.

The first gap arises between the ages of 29 and 39, coinciding with the first maternity period that has been penalizing the women in charge of caring for their children. And the second comes between the ages of 39 and 49, when women usually have their second child. “The gap is in step with the life cycle,” explained the coordinator, Elena Martínez.

Salary discrimination mechanisms always operate, even in the branches of knowledge in which they are the majority: health sciences and arts and humanities. In social sciences there is almost parity. Singularly, the gap is smaller in technical careers (Engineering and Architecture) in which women seem to repeat the behavior patterns of men.

The Government is taking measures to curb this gap, but for now it is not reflected in the data. At the end of 2020, with the support of the rectors, an extension for maternity was included to “keep alive” the six-year research periods —a salary supplement for production that is achieved by showing the merits of six uninterrupted years—, and to avoid the gender gap. in the academic career. One year of extension for each child. Paternity leave has been equalized and we will have to wait to see the results in production.

The failure of the transfer plugin

The six-year term of transfer —which rewards salary and academics to those who disseminate what they research with scientific, economic and social value— has, however, been a setback for women. It was such a failure that it has not been called again since 2020, waiting to reform it. Of the 16,844 applications, 57.26% were negative, but above all in terms of gender, since the success rate for women was 27%.

To this six-year term of transfer, far fewer women than men attended. Pilar Paneque, new director of the evaluation agency ANECA, speaks of “self-exclusion”. “When reading the call, they are excluded, they must be modified because it is the only way for the system to stop being a deterrent.”

The decree on equal pay between women and men, published in the BOE in 2020, obliges companies and public administrations to carry out improvement actions, when the result of the gender gap is greater than 25%. For this reason in Spain, as in Italy, the Netherlands, Romania and Norway, women are more protected in the Administration than in private companies.

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