The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Minorities Are Paid Equitably, But Are Underrepresented in Higher Ed Leadership

While the U.S. minority population continues to grow, the number of racial/ethnic minorities holding top jobs in colleges and universities is not keeping pace.

According to new research from CUPA-HR, while there has been a steady increase in the representation of minorities in higher education administrative positions over the last 15 years, the increase in the minority population in the U.S. and the increase in the percentage of minorities holding a college degree (which is required for these top jobs) greatly outpace these numbers.

The study, which provides a look at how higher ed has paid minorities in administrative positions from 2001-2016, as well as the representation of minorities in top leadership positions in colleges and universities nationwide, also found that unlike women administrators, minority administrators as a whole in higher ed are paid equitably in relation to their White colleagues.

Some Findings

  • Eighty-six percent of college and university administrators are White. This representation gap mirrors that of private industry, where 87 percent of senior-level executives are White.
  • One factor that may explain the large gap between the U.S. minority and higher ed administrator populations is that the labor pool for these positions is constrained to those individuals who possess at least an undergraduate degree and often a graduate degree in their field, and the proportion of minorities who have a college degree is much lower than the percentage of Whites holding a college degree.
  • Higher ed is more progressive than private industry when it comes to pay equity for minorities — Black and Hispanic men with college degrees earn only 80 cents to the dollar of what White men earn in private industry, but in higher ed administration as a whole, minority pay matches non-minority pay dollar for dollar.
  • Representation of racial/ethnic minorities varies widely when looking at select executive positions. Positions with better than average representation include the chief officers of legal affairs, human resources and student affairs. The position with the worst minority representation is chief development officer.
  • By region, the Midwest and Northeast both exceed pay equity for minority administrators. These are also the regions with the lowest minority representation in these positions. Thus, it appears that in regions where fewer minorities occupy higher ed administrative positions, there may be a special effort to attract and retain them by offering a competitive salary.
  • When looking at the data as a whole, in the senior-most executive positions, racial/minority pay exceeds that of non-minorities.