Friday, April 20, 2018
Last updated: 3 years ago
January 28, 2015, 6:27pm PDT

Salary List: gender income disparity

By Will McDonald, Ben Cook and Peter Siemens

Average salary, male vs female (by department)

This chart illustrates gender income equality on a department level. The size of each dot is proportional to the number of employees in the department. The grey line represents equality; dots above it have a higher average female salary, while those below it have a higher average male salary. Use the search bar to find specific departments, or filter by faculty and campus.

Among UBC’s 40 highest earners, only three are women.

In our salary database, approximately 2,513 out of the 4,334 total are men. Their salaries work out to be, on average, $21,397 higher than women who earn more than $75,000 annually.

UBC’s administration says the numbers are misleading, and there is no wage gap between men and women, after all tenure track female faculty members were given a two per cent raise in 2013. Rachel Kuske, senior advisor to the provost on women, said it is a “demographic difference,” not an issue of pay equity.

UBC employee stats

4334 employeesearning over $75,000
$118,018avg. female salary
$139,415avg. male salary

Margot Young, chair of the faculty association’s status of women committee said the two per cent raise helped solve what they found to be an unaccountable three per cent salary difference between men and women.

“Gender equity is a big systemic issue. And it’s one that universities are starting to grapple with and will have to continue to do so … in a way that’s more effective than how they’ve done so in the past,” said Young.

Young, however, took note of the lack of women among UBC’s highest paid employees.

“That’s probably a reflection of how gender matters. How gender counts…. I don’t really know if there is a way to fix that, to tell you the truth,” said Young. “In terms of the upper echelons of pay and power, it’s still a man’s world.”

UBC's highest-paid female employees

Name & position
Rank overall

Kai Li

Professor, Sauder


Frieda Granot

Professor, Sauder


Judith L Isaac-Renton

Professor, Medicine


Kuske said UBC only hires based on qualifications, giving the example that if a woman was the dean of Medicine, she would be paid as well as the current, male dean.

“It’s easy to see a problem on a list of numbers when there is little detailed analysis of how those numbers came about. Lists like these fail to differentiate between pay equity and equity in representation and that’s a fundamental issue to explain,” said Kuske.

“What the equity in representation issue suggests to women is opportunity. UBC, like other universities, is looking to strong and capable women to fill leadership positions as they arise.”

UBC’s VP Human Resources Lisa Castle said that half of UBC’s executives are women, as are more than half of the university’s associate vice presidents.

Female salaries by faculty

This chart shows each faculty's average female salary as a percentage of its average male salary.

    Young said that in addition to ensuring pay equity, women struggle with not only getting positions in the first place, but retaining them, and being awarded promotions.

    “These sorts of unconscious biases play a role in how you evaluate candidates for retention, for starting salary, for administrative leadership appointment. That’s a hard thing to target, but it’s exactly what we need to target and sort of pull to the surface and make people really conscious about trying not to reach these predetermined decisions about merit,” said Young.

    In the STEM fields, women are noticeable underrepresented. The ratio of men to women who earn over $75,000 is over three to one in Applied Science and over two to one in the Faculty of Science.

    “The extent that women faculty aren’t fully actualized or flourishing here, they’re wasting this huge, amazing resource that is their female faculty. Both for leadership potential … and simply for research and community participation,” said Young.

    The Sauder School of Business, in addition to having the highest paid faculty member, had the largest difference in average salary between men and women — almost $64,000.

    Sauder School of Business

    32%Female employees
    68%Male employees
    $144,990Avg. female salary
    $211,106Avg. male salary

    $66,116Male/female pay gap

    “We want the very best people to work at our university and Sauder is no exception. We draw the best candidates we can find from a limited pool, especially in the business community where the private sector can be significantly more profitable for men and women,” said Castle.

    “We are one of the largest and most successful universities in Canada, but we are competing with schools from around the world to recruit, hire and retain the best talent we can find. Salaries must be competitive.”

    Faculties at the Okanagan campus had the lowest average salary difference between men and women.

    “The Okanagan campus has a much different history than the Vancouver campus,” said Castle.

    Castle said the difference at UBC-O, which became part of the university in 2005, can partially be attributed to its smaller campus and lack of professional faculties compared to Vancouver. She also pointed out that UBC-O female faculty received the same two per cent raise in 2013.

    UBC Okanagan vs UBC Vancouver

    35%Female employees
    41%Female employees
    $10,221Avg. pay gap
    $24,898Avg. pay gap

    $14,677Pay gap difference

    Castle said she is satisfied with the current level of pay equity at UBC, and the university is still working on programs to ensure pay equity for the future.

    “Equity in representation has clearly improved at UBC. We will continue working to make improvements and we will not hesitate to rectify wage gaps in the future,” said Kuske.

    Young said the university is continuing to work on pay equity, especially though programs focusing on equal starting salaries, promotion and retention of women faculty.

    “What’s important to do now is to hold these two important players in the university community to account for their promises to actually see some program implementation and transparency of process around dealing with what is admittedly a really tricky issue. Because it’s about culture change and attitude change,” said Young.

    Data by Peter Siemens and Ben Cook. Staff genders are not disclosed in UBC’s annual report; genders determined by common genders assigned to names; ambiguous cases researched for accuracy or omitted.

    • Sarah

      “Margot Young, chair of the faculty association’s status of women committee said the two per cent raise helped solve what they found to be an unaccountable three per cent salary difference between men and women.”

      …What happened to the other 1%?