Press Release

February 14, 2017

Study Confirms Men Outnumber Women in Highest-Paying Jobs in Higher Education
Women Occupy Less Than 30 Percent of Top Executive Posts

When comparing the salaries and representation of men and women in executive positions in the nation’s colleges and universities over the past 15 years, men continue to hold more top posts than women and also take home more money. According to new research from CUPA-HR, women occupy only three in 10 of the senior-most positions in higher education and earn on average $20,000 less than men.

CUPA-HR’s new research brief, The Gender Pay Gap and the Representation of Women in Higher Education Administrative Positions: The Century So Far, provides a look at how higher education has paid women in administrative positions from 2001-2016, as well as the number of women holding top leadership positions in colleges and universities nationwide.


  • In 2001, women administrators in higher education earned approximately 77 cents on the dollar as compared to their male counterparts. That has risen only slightly to approximately 80 cents in 2016. The higher education pay gap for administrators roughly mirrors the overall U.S. pay gap for men and women.
  • Across the U.S., roughly half of higher ed administrators are women. However, when different types of administrative positions are assessed, the representation of women decreases drastically in more prestigious, higher-paying jobs. Although there has been a trend toward hiring more women into each type of position since 2001, the percentage of women in top executive positions remains less than 30 percent.
  • Men occupy the overwhelming majority of executive positions in higher ed. They outnumber women more than 2:1 among presidents and chief business officers. They outnumber women 4:1 among chief information officers and chief athletics administrators, and more than 9:1 among chief facilities officers. The only position in which women occupy the overwhelming majority of positions is that of chief HR officer, where they outnumber men nearly 3:1.
  • Although the representation of women is lower in positions with higher salaries, the pay gap is narrower. The pay gap decreases slightly as one moves from less senior to more senior positions (with the exception of deans). Therefore, in positions where women are less represented, they tend to be paid more. For example, although female chief facilities officers are outnumbered more than 9:1 by men, they earn 17 percent more than their male counterparts.

Read the full brief and see an infographic.

CUPA-HR is higher ed HR. We serve higher education by providing the knowledge, resources, advocacy and connections to achieve organizational and workforce excellence. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and serving nearly 23,000 HR professionals and other campus leaders at more than 1,900 member institutions and organizations around the country and abroad, the association offers learning and professional development programs, higher education salary and benefits data, extensive online resources and just-in-time regulatory and legislative information.

CUPA-HR is the recognized authority on compensation surveys for higher education, with its salary surveys designed by higher ed HR professionals for higher ed HR professionals and other campus leaders. Learn more about CUPA-HR research.

Contact Information:
Missy Kline
Content Manager – Communications and Marketing


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