The Other Pay Gap? Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Higher Education

Research in industry indicates that diversity is good for the bottom line. Diverse companies and institutions are more successful than those that are not diverse. In fact, gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers, and ethnically-diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their peers.

In addition to their study on the gender pay gap and representation gap which Kelly Thomas wrote on in our previous blog post, the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) did a study on the pay and representation gap of racial and ethnic minorities in higher education specifically in administrative positions. Having collected data since 1967, this report focuses on data from 2001-2016.

While there is a still a minority pay gap for full time U.S. workers which has remained relatively unchanged since the 1980s, there is no racial pay gap in higher education administrative positions. However, there is a gap in representation of administrators when compared to the population. See the graphs below, taken from the report, to see where the gaps are and aren’t.



These two graphs show that an overwhelming majority of higher education administrators are white, but that the number of minority administrators is growing, slowly but surely.



These two graphics show that race and location matters when it comes to pay. While Asian and Hispanic/Latino administrators now make on average more than White administrators, Black/African American administrators still make less. This too, varies by the region. In the Midwest, where there the minority population is significantly lower than the other regions, minority administrators tend to make more than White administrators.

This report shows that there has been growth in some areas, but there is still need for growth in other areas. The report ends by making recommendations for individual institutions to considers, including examining our institution’s data to see if we follow the trends represented here in minority pay and representation, identifying concerns, and addressing those concerns with leadership.

Read the full report here:

Bichsel, Jacqueline, and McChesney, Jasper (March 2017). Pay and Representation of Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Higher Education Administrative Positions: The Century So Far. Research report. CUPA-HR. Available from:


Failing to Keep Up

CUPA-HR’s Striving for Excellence through Diversity and Inclusion

10 Ways Employees can Support Diversity and Inclusion

Gender Pay Gap: Eliminated? Or… not so much

According to a recent study conducted by the College of University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), women administrators in higher education earn 80 cents on the dollar when compared to men.


The study notes that although the pay gap seemed to be shrinking at a faster rate in the early 2000s, that it has slowed since 2001 and has only narrowed 3 cents since then.  The survey attributes the lack of improvement in the pay gap to the Great Recession, where funding to higher education dropped, and had a greater economic impact on women and minorities.

In addition to this most recent CUPA-HR study, the latest national data from 2014 by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) reported that white, non-Hispanic women earn 79 percent of what white non-Hispanic men do.  The number drops even more dramatically for women of color, who earn 64 percent of what white men do; Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women earn 65 percent; American Indian and Alaska Native women earn 59 percent, and Hispanic or Latina women earn only 54 percent.


While there are people that may believe that the gender pay gap no longer exists, the research clearly proves otherwise.  And what’s more, the impacts of the pay gap reach farther than just what a woman earns on her paycheck vs. her male counterpart.  Other financial impacts to women include “the pink tax,” where women are paying an average of $1,355 more every year for buying the exact same products as men, only women are being charged more because of gender.  Items like soap, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, and other personal care items that all people need to use, are often marketed by gender and marked up, pricewise, for women.  Also, as a whole, female-dominated occupations, such as teaching, nursing, and social work pay less than those dominated by men.

While much of this research can be discouraging, and at times overwhelming, there are things you can do.  CUPA-HR offers the following suggestions as next steps for you as an employee, manager, supervisor, or administrator:

  • Examine the data and ask yourself the following questions:
    • How well-represented are women in administrative positions?
    • Are women being paid comparably to men in similar positions?
  • Benchmark salaries to compare yours with other similarly situated institutions.
  • Recognize that representation is not the only issue for women in administrative positions. There is still a considerable pay gap in positions where women are well-represented.  Identify whether such pay gaps exist at your institution.
  • Based on the data, begin to identify what steps can be implemented or updated in your efforts to recruit and retain top, diverse talent.

And finally, an additional question for us all:

What does an institution need to have in place for us to consider it successful in its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and what responsibility do YOU have to help make that a reality?

For more information:
80 Cents on the Dollar

CUPA-HR Research Brief

Impacts of the Gender Pay Gap

Women are Having Way Too Much Fun to Retire

Learning about Disabilities: Disability Ettiquette

In the multi-cultural environment in which we work and live, we are all learning the best way to communicate and interact with people across different races and cultures.  Along with best practices for communicating across cultures, there is also proper etiquette for communicating with persons with disabilities.  When we have not had many interactions with persons with disabilities, we may not know what is the best way to say things or how to act.  For example, you may not be sure if it is ok to get the door for a person in a wheelchair or if you should allow them to hit the disabled door opener for themselves, or we might ask ourselves ‘what is the best way to interact with someone who is blind or deaf?’.  The information below from the University of NorthernIowa’s Office of Compliance and Equity Management, explains proper etiquette for communicating with persons with disabilities in a respectful and equitable manner.

Things to Remember

  • Individuals with disabilities are people!
  • Individuals with disabilities are whole people!
  • They expect to be treated with the same dignity and respect that you do.
  • Just because someone has a disability does not mean he/she is disabled.

Disability Etiquette

  • Remember, he/she is a person, NOT a disability.
  • Words that speak to a person’s medical condition are rarely appropriate.
  • Never patronize them by patting them on the head or back.
  • Offer to shake their hand, even if it appears as if they have limited use of their arms or have an artificial limb. Simply the gesture will help them feel accepted and create a warmer environment for communication.
  • For those who cannot shake hands, lightly touch the individual on the shoulder or arm to welcome their presence.
  • Look at and speak directly to the person, not through a companion, care-taker, or interpreter.
  • Treat adults as adults.
  • Don’t apologize if you use an expression such as “I gotta run” or “See you later” that relates to the person’s disability. These expressions are part of everyday language and it is likely the apology will be more offensive than the expression.
  • Don’t pet or feed service animals or guide dogs as they are working.
  • When giving directions, make sure you consider things such as the weather, locations of ramps/curb-cuts, and other physical obstacles that may hinder travel for individuals with disabilities.

Speech Disability Etiquette

  • Never assume….many people mistakenly identify these individuals as being mentally retarded or mentally ill. Make sure to be patient in finding out which communication method works best for them.
  • Be 100 percent attentive when conversing with an individual who has difficulty speaking.
  • If you are in a noisy and/or crowded environment, don’t panic. Just try and move to a quieter location to talk.
  • Let them complete their own sentences. Be patient and do not try to speak for them. Do not pretend to understand; instead, tell them what you do understand and allow them to respond.
  • Do not be corrective, but rather, encouraging.
  • When necessary, it’s OK to ask short questions that require short answers.

Wheelchair Etiquette

  • Things to Remember
    • Individual who use wheelchairs may require different degrees of assistance.
    • Some who use wheelchairs may also use canes or other assistive devices and may not need his/her wheelchair all the time.
  • Do not automatically assist the individual without permission. It is okay to offer assistance. However, if the offer is not accepted, respect his/her request!
  • If you will be speaking with an individual in a wheelchair for more than a couple minutes, find a place where you can sit down to give the individual a more comfortable viewing angle.
  • A person’s wheelchair is part of his/her own personal space. Never move, lean on, rock, or touch his/her wheelchair without permission. In addition to being rude, it can be dangerous.
  • Do not assume that having to use a wheelchair is a tragedy. Wheelchairs can be a means of freedom to fully engage in life.

Hearing Disability Etiquette

  • Do not shout at a hearing impaired person unless they request you to. Just speak in a normal tone but make sure your lips are visible.
  • Keep conversations clear and find a quiet location to communicate.
  • If you are asked to repeat yourself, answering “nothing, it’s not important” implies the person is not worth repeating yourself for. It is demeaning; be patient and comply.
  • Show consideration by facing the light source and keeping things (such as cigarettes or your hands) away from you mouth while speaking.
  • Look directly at and speak directly to the person rather than looking at the interpreter or any others who may accompany the individual.
  • Remember that facial expressions and natural gestures enhance communication.
  • Clarify which method of communication and language is preferred.

Visual Disability Etiquette

  • When meeting someone with a visual disability, identify yourself and others with you (e.g. “Jane is on my left and Jack is on my right.”). Continue to identify the person with whom you are speaking.
  • If you go out to dinner with an acquaintance with a visual disability, ask if you can describe what is on the menu and what is on his/her plate.
  • When walking with someone with a visual impairment, offer them your arm for guidance. They will likely keep a half-step behind to anticipate curbs and steps.
  • Let the person know when you are leaving the room.

Words and phrases guidelines

 Disability vs. Handicap

  • A disability is a condition caused by such things as an accident or trauma, disease, or genetics that limits a person’s vision, hearing, speech, mobility, or mental function.
  • A handicap is a constraint imposed upon a person, regardless of that person’s ability or disability. These constraints can be physical or attitudinal. For example, stairs and curbs are handicaps imposed on those who use wheelchairs.

Always remember that the person is not the condition. Keep all your speech person focused, not disability focused.


A person with a disability Cripple
Disability Handicap; handicapped person
A person who has mental or developmental disabilities Moron; retarded; feebleminded
Able-bodied; able to walk, see, etc Healthy; normal- Just because someone has a disability does not mean they are not healthy
A wheelchair user; walks with aid Confined/restricted to a wheelchair
Mental or emotional disability Crazy; insane
A person who is deaf/ hearing impairment Deaf and dumb; mute
A person with epilepsy An epileptic
He has cerebral palsy He is a cerebral palsy victim
A successful/productive person Person who has overcome his/her disability.

Person who is courageous.


Avoid terms which carry a negative connotation:

Abnormal, Afflicted, Confined, Crippled, Defective, Handicap, Invalid, Lame, Palsied, Retarded, Stricken, Sufferer, Victim, Withered

Use empowering, individualized vocabulary; don’t clump them with phrases like “the blind” or “the disabled.”

Employment Do’s and Don’ts


  • have written job descriptions identifying all the essential functions of the job.
  • learn where to find and recruit individuals with disabilities.
  • train supervisors on how to make reasonable accommodations.
  • remember that those protected by the ADA include individual who have AIDS, cancer, brain-injured, deaf, blind, mentally retarded and learning disabled.
  • make forms available to those with visual disabilities.


  • ask if a person has a disability during an employment interview!!
  • assume that if a person is disabled, he/she will be better suited for some jobs more than others.
  • assume reasonable accommodations will be expensive.
  • assume your workplace is accessible.


Additional Resources – How do I know if my worksite is accessible?

ADA Business Connection

Enforcement Guidance:

Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

Sign language alphabet

Wheelchair Information


Everyone of us are at different points in learning about difference and identity at a personal, interpersonal, and institutional level. I occasionally look back a year or two and think about how I would frame trainings around identity. Without fail, I chuckle to myself and think about how far I’ve come in my understanding. I try my best to learn as much as I can every day, and I still have areas I know very little. That’s the nature of better understanding diversity and inclusion.

Working everyday on issues of equity and justice is pebbled with mistake-making opportunities. This work is hard. This work is imperfect. This work is not so much a linear path but a series of steps that only at times feel like they take us forward. Many steps are sideways; some are backwards.This work tells you things about yourself sometimes you’d rather not know.There is so much to hold and it’s not easy.


A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life. ― Christopher K. Germer

Compassion is typically associated with an outward interpersonal understanding and connection with others. What I’d like to further explore is the idea of “self-compassion”. This is our superpower when we make mistakes; when I (male) inadvertently speak over my colleagues, misgender someone, or schedule a meeting in a space that isn’t accessible to folks with disabilities. No matter how hard I try, I will make mistakes. Having compassion for myself, learning where those mistakes are coming from, and continuing to engage and better myself is a necessity; and self-compassion goes a long way to allowing me to push forward.

Cool cape not included, but highly encouraged.

While this has a lot of implications in engaging across difference, understanding our own identities, and building more equitable environments, self-compassion has virtually unlimited implications for improving leadership, organizational culture, and relationship with self and others. When combined with a humble curiosity and desire to learn, self-compassion can be transformative in both your work and personal life.

For more information and resources, check out the links below!

The Five Myths of Self-Compassion

Self Care – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resources


2015 Trans Survey Results

Are you sitting down? Good.

Last night, the National Center for Transgender Equality released the results of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. I encourage you to view the press conference, read the executive summary, and/or read the full report. The full report is comprehensive, including very specific breakdowns, specifics, and narratives from survey respondents.

View them at

To be honest, I’m not sure what to say about this. The results are heart breaking and heart warming, but above all, they are real. These are real experiences of trans people across the US, interacting with institutions that claim to be about the greater good, about serving all people, about upholding Title VII and Title IX, but time and time again, we see that doesn’t happen. These are real experiences of trans people across the US, interacting with people, their family, friends, communities, peers, strangers.

Where do we go from here? Well, take a second, google some funny animals and come back.

Educate yourself. Read everything you can. Get to know the trans people in your life. Continue to learn. To get started, look back at our post: Transgender Employees and Overcoming Barriers to Employment.

Read more about being an ally by googling “tips to being a trans ally.” Do your own work. It’s not easy.

A Deep Breath…then Dialogue

*Breathe in, breathe out* | *Breathe in, breathe out**Breathe in, breathe out*

Have you ever experienced a situation where someone says something that sparks a highly emotional, head-spinning, heart-racing reaction? Perhaps you are Tom Hanks and someone just told you that you’re portrayal of Robert Langdon is a bit stiff and lacks emotion. Something a little more common; you may be teaching in a classroom where a student states that we have a black president, so racism doesn’t exist anymore. This is a difficult conversation to have and our fight/flight response kicks in pretty quickly. How can we better engage in dialogues about diversity when they can produce so much anxiety and fear?


Dr. Maura Cullen offers a few suggestions for de-escalating (without disengaging) uncomfortable or challenging situations. B.A.R. (Breathe Acknowledge Respond) is a quick technique to help diffuse emotionally charged situations and work through uncomfortability productively.

  • Breathe – Take a deep breath. It’s a simple way to calm you immediately.
  • Acknowledge – Acknowledge what the person is saying through active listening or asking questions to further your understanding of their perspective. You may not agree with what they are saying and it’s important to acknowledge and/or validate their feelings or context.
  • Respond – After taking a deep breath, acknowledging what the person is saying, you give yourself a better chance of responding with thought and empathy than simply blurting out your gut reaction.

There are proactive measures you can take as well! Co-creating expectations between colleagues, students, volunteers, and others can help provide a shared understanding of how difficult conversations will go. These expectations can be used to model positive dialogue behaviors, de-escalate situations when they become harmful, and guide necessary follow-up.

For additional resources on having difficult dialogues, please visit the following:

OEDI Sway: Difficult Conversations in the Classroom

Responding to Difficult Moments

Start Talking Handbook

Handbook for Facilitating Difficult Conversations in the Classroom

Seven Bricks to Lay the Foundation for Productive Difficult Dialogues