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:


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