Women researchers lead wage hikes



Women employed in the research and development fields in universities, government, and industry made substantial increases and lead men in salary gains in 1981, according to a far-reaching survey of 5000 respondents (Industrial Research and Development, April 1982). At the upper end, 20% of women researchers received salary increases of 14% or more, compared to 13% of the men. The raises were high in 1981; more than half the women in research and development had salary gains of over 9%.

The employment picture for women in the scientific and technical fields is somewhat complicated by the affirmative efforts of hiring. More women were hired in 1981, and most newly hired women and men begin at the lowest salaries. This factor contributed to the reality that more women than men at the lower salary ranges received zero raises. However, according to the survey, this is not a trend, since the current efforts to add women in research fields are providing more rewards for women per amount of experience than for men: “…women working in R&D have far less experience than their male counterparts.” (IR&D, op cit.). The median years of experience is down in 1981 from previous years. Some 40% of the women surveyed had less than 6 years experience, compared to about 14% of the men. These figures contrast with those of the survey trends of previous years, which indicated a direct relation between salary and experience. It is still true that because larger numbers of men have over 16 years of experience, the highest paid employees in research and development fields are men. It is noted, however, that in the beginning salary scales ($16–27 k/yr) women outnumber men.