Gender pay gap not an issue in Idaho education

It’s no secret — men are paid more than women in America.

Not true in Idaho public education.

Idaho Education News compared the 2017-18 salaries of Idaho teachers and administrators and found the numbers defy national salary trends.

Nationally and among all professions, women earn 77.9 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to a 2018 survey by PayScale. Plus, over the course of their career, men move into higher level roles at significantly higher rates than women. By mid-career, men are 70 percent more likely to be in executive roles than women.

But in Idaho, male and female teachers make virtually the same amount. Male teachers in Idaho make on average $45,661 a year while female teacher make $45,645 — a difference of just $16.

It makes sense that the education field would have a smaller gender pay gap than in other professions because it is female-dominated and one where salary schedules typically rely on education and experience levels.

But gender gaps do exist in education. According to two new studies, female educators earn less than their male counterparts in Pennsylvania and Illinois. In Pennsylvania, disparities are even larger for district leaders.

Idaho bucks the trend there, too.

Female superintendents in Idaho make nearly $2,000 more than their male counterparts. Idaho female superintendents make on average $103,732 and male superintendents make $102,011. Idaho’s highest paid superintendent is a woman — GwenCarol Holmes of Blaine County. West Ada’s Mary Ann Ranells ranks No. 3. Nampa’s superintendent Paula Kellerer and Caldwell’s superintendent Shalene French rank in the Top 10.

Male charter school leaders make a bit more ($87,343) than female charter school leaders ($82,703). But four in the top 10 are women. Charter schools make up about 7 percent of Idaho’s student population.

Max Marchitello of Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit consulting firm, found nationlly that women in the education field made about $7,000 less than men. This lumps together different professional jobs, including administrator, classroom teacher, as well as guidance counselor and librarian, among others.

Disparities in the education field come in part because men are more likely to move up to administrative positions, Marchitello concluded. And male principals and administrators are paid significantly more because there is more room for negotiation in those positions.

“As with other professions, I think that the education field needs to think a lot about how they promote and how they identify people to be promoted,” said Judith Kafka, an education historian.

Idaho Education News data analyst Randy Schrader crunched the numbers for this story.

Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over one million pageviews in 2019. Jennifer has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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