Editorials

Highly qualified female seeks less pay?

Highland High School Principal Karen Gauen is suing in federal court for gender pay bias.
Highland High School Principal Karen Gauen is suing in federal court for gender pay bias. Provided

You can’t expect a newbie to make the same amount as someone who was in the top job for a long time. You also can understand a district paying their top people less if they are trying to balance the budget.

What’s harder to understand is how you take a person with more degrees, more experience in the district and more qualifications and pay them less for doing the same assistant principal’s job. Then you make them a supervisor and still pay them less than an assistant. On that point the Highland School Board has some explaining to do before a federal judge.

Highland High School Principal Karen Gauen is suing the district for sex discrimination.

Her suit states her predecessor, who was only there a few years, was making $25,000 more in base salary despite having fewer academic credentials and less education. There is the possibility that the district hit a financial rough patch and cut the salary for the top job. Sometimes the books must be balanced.

Impossible to reconcile, and the costly issue, is that she made less than male peers while an assistant principal and then when elevated to principal she still made less than a male assistant principal who was her subordinate. Combine her salary discrepancies with those experienced by another female administrator and this lawsuit does not look very good for Highland taxpayers.

Equal work for equal pay is still a distant goal. The White House estimates the gap as a woman earning 77 cents for every $1 a man makes for the same job, while the Pew Research Center controls for full and part-time work to put it at 84 cents. Even at the higher rate, a woman works 40 days for free compared to a man. It is outrageous and unacceptable that equal work for equal pay is still an issue in 2016.

Gauen and the board have the opportunity to settle this without the cost of litigating it in federal court. The fact that she repeatedly took the issue to the district superintendent before turning to the federal courts might argue against the hope that this will be resolved quietly or economically.

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