Vassar College, one of the Seven Sisters, has long been seen as a beacon of forward-thinking policies when it came to gender. But this rosy view of the college is now being contested by a lawsuit brought by former and current professors, who allege the college has systematically paid its male professors more for decades.
The suit, which is being brought by five tenured professors claims that not only did Vassar continuously pay male counterparts more, the college also delayed promotions and engaged in the use of a performance rating system that discriminated against female professors.
In salary data published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the ‘03-‘04 academic year saw women paid, on average, $7,770 less than male counterparts.The gap has only widened since then, to nearly $14,000 in the ‘21-‘22 academic year, a similar pay gap in higher education at large.
The suit has outraged many on campus, who believed that such a disparity could not happen at such a progressive institution. In responding to the suit and the subsequent student anger, the college’s president acknowledged an ongoing dispute between faculty and the college over salary raises which are governed by a faculty-led peer review process. She said that she respected the professors’ choice to take this dispute to the courts and that the institution had agreed to hiring an outside compensation analysis organization to review salaries. The plaintiffs’ complaint is available here.