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LAF Case Underscores Perpetuation of Lower Pay

Sex Discrimination Case Underscores Perpetuation of Lower Pay forFemale-Dominated Fields and Higher Valuation of Men in Nursing

Washington — An associate professor of nursing at Berea College is challenging “pink collar” pay inequity between the nursing department and other academic fields as well as sex-based pay discrepancies within the nursing department itself. Claire Schuster is pressing her case with new support from the American Association of University Women Legal Advocacy Fund.
“The situation at Berea College is a perfect example of the continuing undervaluation of work traditionally performed by women,” said Lisa Maatz, interim director of the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund. “Nursing professors should be valued and paid according to their skills and experience; sex should not be part of the equation.” 

The Legal Advocacy Fund will provide critical financial backing to Schuster, who claims that her salary was substantially less than the average for other professors at her level, according to a salary chart provided by the college. Schuster also learned that the all-female nursing department had hired its first male faculty member at a salary that exceeded the salaries paid to female nursing faculty members ¯ including her own salary ¯ and that he had been hired directly into the associate professor level.

At the time of his hire, the male faculty member had significantly less teaching and professional experience in comparison to Schuster’s eight years of teaching and 28 years as a nursing professional. Additionally, she claims that he did not have the requisite six years of experience at the assistant professor level or any special qualifications that would have justified his hiring at a higher rank and salary than other women faculty at the college. Schuster has retained an expert to testify about salary and rank inequities in academia and the basis of those inequities at trial. 

“We look forward to providing this critical backing to Claire Schuster’s case,” said Maatz. “Our members commend her courage in taking this action that will benefit all women seeking the simple justice of pay equity.”

Learn more about pay equity on campus
View the full case summary of Schuster v. Berea College