Knowledge Center

Interactive: The Black and White Higher Education Workforce

This interactive graphic explores the representation and pay of Black employees across the higher education workforce. We divide the higher ed workforce into four categories based on our four core compensation surveys.

  • Administrative positions (e.g., president, chief academic officer, chief business officer) typically require managing an institution or an institutional division.
  • Faculty positions (e.g., assistant professor, associate professor) typically require course instruction and research.
  • Professional positions (e.g., academic advisor, IT professional) typically require a bachelor’s degree and involve work in a specific functional area (e.g., student services, information technology).
  • Staff positions (e.g., administrative assistant, skilled trades, maintenance staff) are typically hourly positions that do not require a college degree.

Next Steps

Though higher education is doing relatively well on the representation and pay of Black professionals, it has much room to improve the representation and pay of Black employees in other areas.

  • Black employees are underrepresented in administrative and faculty positions, the positions with the highest pay in higher ed.
  • Most Black higher education employees are in staff positions, the positions with the lowest pay and lowest pay equity in higher ed.
  • When Black employees hold administrative positions (i.e., the highest-paying position type in higher ed), they are paid less relative to their White colleagues.

These data demonstrate a strong need to recruit more Black administrators and faculty and improve pay equity for Black administrators and staff. What steps can you take to identify and address inequities in representation and pay at your institution?

  • Assess Your Strengths and Growth Opportunities: Use DataOnDemand's Ethnicity Demographic Reports to benchmark your institution’s representation of and pay equity for Black employees against customized groups of peer or aspirant institutions.
  • Share Results and Develop a Plan for Improvement: Share the data with university leadership and other key stakeholders, and use CUPA-HR's DEI Maturity Index and  diversity resources for compensation, recruitment, and retention to help develop an actionable plan for improvement.
  • Implement and Evaluate: Be sure your implementation plan includes a realistic timeline, clear measures of success, and regular assessments of your institution's progress.


  • Educational attainment comparison data is based on people age 25 and older.
  • Analyses of median salaries and pay ratios control for position. For the administrators, professionals, and staff data, median salaries by race for each specific position were obtained; then the median of those medians was calculated for both Black and White employees. For the faculty data, the median salaries by race for each combination of rank and discipline were obtained; then the median of those medians was calculated for both Black and White faculty. These procedures control for the fact that Black employees may be represented differently in specific positions that may pay higher or lower salaries, and it means that the salary gaps present are not explained by the fact that Black employees may have greater representation in lower-paying positions, disciplines, or ranks.