What's the cost of being a woman employee of The Ohio State University? An analysis by The Lantern found that men working for the school earn $7,800 more than women when comparing median salary values.
Erin Gottsacker, The Lantern's special projects editor and a former WOSU intern, looked at a decade's worth of salary data and found that, across the pay spectrum - from nursing support staff to college deans - men consistently earned more money.
"Men were earning about $7,800 more than women in 2016," Gottsacker says. "So that's a little bit less than in 2006 when men were earning about $9,000 more than women."
The Lantern took the median of men and women's annual earnings to create the comparison.
"We did that to account for outliers like Urban Meyer, who is making a lot more than the average Ohio State employee," she says.
According to The Lantern, "in 2016, only 12 of the university's 100 highest-paid employees were women, while they made up 63 of the 100 lowest-paid employees."
The Lantern staff didn't just look at overall comparisons of wages, though. Gottsacker and her fellow reporters also broke down the data job-by-job, looking at men and women with similar positions and similar levels of seniority, to see if the disparity persisted.
Gottsacker said that, in lower-paid positions, men and women earned about the same. But when they looked at positions that require more education and experience, like professors and physicians, a difference became clear.
"When we looked at physicians, who require a lot more education, the pay gap was a lot more noticeable," Gottsacker says. "So in that position, when you accounted for the amount of hours worked, men were earning about $46,000 more than women."
She compares a man and a woman who started working in the same field, internal medicine, in the same year, 1990.
"The woman, even though she was in a higher position, was learning about $20,000 less than the man," Gottsacker says. "That happened over and over again. It wasn't just a one-time thing."
Gottsacker thinks things could change at Ohio State. They're participating in Columbus Commitment, a program dedicated to improving the gender wage gap across the city. The university responded to Gottsacker's reporting in a letter to the editor, pointing that the university was doing better, on average, than both Columbus and the U.S., but that there was still work to do.
"The university’s goal is to close the gender wage gap even though we are doing better than the general surrounding market," writes Joanne McGoldrick, Associate Vice President for Total Rewards at OSU.
According to the city, women in Columbus earn 78 cents to every dollar earned by men - lower than the national average of 80 cents per dollar. Businesses that sign on to the Columbus Commitment voluntarily pledge to review how their hiring, promotion, and pay practices lead to gender and racial disparities, invest time and talent to addressing those disparities, and share their practices and results with other organizations.
"Ohio State signed on to that in April, and as part of that, they're working on this compensation and classification redesign," Gottsacker says. "So they're working to standardize and centralize data from across the university. So that when you look at a position coordinator in one department, it's the same as a position coordinator in another department."
Once Ohio State knows what the differences are, it's possible they can fix them. But it won't be a quick fix. Gottsacker says that process is expected to take about four years.