BBC News recently published a story on how some ethnic minority academics from U.K. universities are unlawfully paid less than white colleagues. The BBC article shares stories from those who feel they are being discriminated against.
For example, Lama, a senior academic mentioned in the BBC story, said:
“The structure of the university is already biased against other ethnicities and sexes. Because I spoke with anger, I was told I was being emotional, which is itself sexist and racist.”
However, the pay gap issue is something that needs to be looked at carefully.
Mind the gap
Firstly, it’s unquestionable that if two people have the exact same job and produce near enough the same results, they both deserve the same pay.
It doesn’t matter about gender, race, sexuality or anything else, the pay should be equal.
However, what must also be considered is how often these people who are paid more go the extra mile.
There is an argument to be made that if some people are going above and beyond, such as working longer hours and doing jobs that aren’t asked of them, then they deserve to be rewarded for their efforts.
Again, this isn’t unfathomable.
An ethnicity numbers game
Most stats that get published, like the ones by the BBC in this article, focus on just the paying numbers.
It doesn’t seem like they are looking to justify why there is a pay gap, just that there is one.
Just as an example, that BBC article shows that Warwick University pays ethnic minority academics 25 percent less than their white colleagues on average.
On the face of it, the institution seems to have a huge issue.
However, the article fails to address any of the reasons why this may be the case.
How many lessons do they teach? Do they get receive grants for their work in return for less pay? How much have they brought to the university in terms of reputation and interest to the outside world?
These are just some factors that would surely go into how pay should be distributed at the university but no one seems to be exploring these angles.
The pay gap is a sensitive topic at the moment, but media outlets must be careful when they publish stories without providing any context except for an employee’s race or ethnicity.