Study Shows Increasing Wage Gap in UC System

A.J. Peterson/The Triton

The University of California system pays women of color a significantly smaller starting salary, according to a research study conducted by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 3299 released in early April.  

The study, entitled “Pioneering Inequality: Race, Gender, and Income Disparities at the University of California,” is an analysis of previously unreleased employment data within the UC system and reveals a largely increasing wage gap between the UC system’s top wage earners and their workers, with women of color receiving significantly lower starting wages than their white male counterparts. It also illustrates a racial and gender hierarchy within the UC workforce, a declining number of Black employees in the UC system, and job outsourcing that allows lower wages for contracted workers.  

According to the study, the UC system’s top one percent of wage earners make an average of $9 for every dollar that all other workers earn, with top administrator salaries growing by 64 percent from 2005 to 2015. The study also found that overall, males, whites, and Asian workers are more likely to be hired for high-paying jobs, while female, Black, and Latinx workers are hired more often for lower-paying jobs. This suggests a developed hierarchy of gender and race, placing male, whites, and Asians, above female, Black, and Latinx workers.

Claire Doan, the director of media relations at the UC Office of the President (UCOP), told The Triton that they are unable to confirm the accuracy of the data or the conclusions made by the study since the UCOP is unaware of how AFSCME conducted their study.

“The diversity of the University’s workforce is one of its greatest strengths,” Doan said. “UC is committed to recognizing and nurturing talent, dedication, and achievement by supporting diversity and equal opportunity.”

Within the UC system, the study also claims that Black women face the largest inequality within the workforce, with starting wages that are 10 percent to 23 percent lower than that of white males. Black employees have also been “disappearing” from UC service and patient care employment, with the steepest drops being at UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara.

“A taxpayer-supported public university system is not the place where we should expect to see exploding wage gaps, Blacks disappearing from the workforce, and an opportunity ladder that seems to prize white males above all others,” study co-author and senior researcher Owen Li said in a press release for the AFSCME 3299 website. “But that is precisely what is happening at UC—and the trends appear to be getting worse, not better.”

Matthew Rom-Toribio is a Staff Writer at The Triton. You can follow him @MT2o