Twenty-four years ago, as a new associate professor of medicine, I was appointed to the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women of my university (University of California, San Francisco) and simultaneously made chair of its Faculty Issues subcommittee. The committee’s energetic chair assigned to my subcommittee the task of performing a salary equity study across our 4 health professions schools.
We chose a conservative design, identifying matched pairs of faculty members, a man and a woman, in the same department, who had achieved tenure within just a few years of each other. Our reasoning was that by focusing on faculty members who were by academic definition successful, having achieved tenure, we could eliminate arguments about differences in ambition, talent, and personal circumstances as explanations for discrepancies between the members of the pairs.
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