PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

The problem with statistics is that they are almost always seen in a way that supports your own opinions. Whatever your politics or beliefs, bias happens.

Blogger and photographer Joanna Rees showed a great example of this in her recent post on Penn State salaries. Rees posits in her post that not only does Penn State discriminate between men and women, the University also values business over the arts. At this point, I will mention that Rees is working on a PhD in Art Education and she is including her findings in a paper for the Women’s Caucus Enacting Change.

Let’s look a bit closer at the data. On an absolute scale, it is true that male professors in both Smeal and the College of Arts and Architecture earn more than female professors. However, there are several important factors to consider. First, in almost all cases, the male professors have more seniority than the female ones, and there are more of them. I can conclude two things from this information. I could say Penn State doesn’t hire enough women or I could say Penn State is making up for past gender discrimination by hiring more new female professors, who, due to a lack of seniority, earn less than males on average. In reality however, I have no idea what the actual situation is, I just came up with a narrative that fits the data.

In addition, I don’t know why pay differs so greatly between the two colleges, but what is important is they are two different colleges. Each has their own sources of funding, deans, policies and responsibilities. Smeal is called “Smeal” for a reason, after alumni Frank Smeal donated $10 million in 1989 to the college. Also, Smeal is huge, with a faculty of 1,935 compared to Arts and Architecture’s 142. There are so few parallels between them that an accurate comparison is nearly impossible.

I guess my point is that analysis based purely on statistics is inaccurate at best and highly subjective. Does Penn State have a gender pay gap? Are the Arts or Business more important? This report does little to answer the question on its own.

About the Author

Nick Johnson

Nick is a junior majoring in IST (the Internet) and CAS (saying things). He hopes to one day get paid to do this, but for now he is willing to do it for the fame. Besides writing for Onward State, he also puts things on the Internet here.

Comments

More by Nick

Southern Kitsch and Sweet Tea at Cracker Barrel

After several months of anticipation, I was finally able to check out State College’s new Cracker Barrel on its opening day. Located at 215 Colonnade Blvd., there are few surprises at the chain’s new location. With rows of rocking chairs out front, checker boards and a game of peg solitaire at every table, I could have been at any franchise location in the country — not that that’s a bad thing.

Help Us Make a Sandwich

Your Guide to UPUA Election Season

Athletics

Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

The incident surrounding Marche’s death is “under investigation,” according to the Philadelphia police department.

Former Women’s Gymnastics Coach Files Lawsuit Against Penn State Over Handling Of Abuse Allegations

Men’s Soccer Trio, Reading United Win PDL Eastern Conference Title, Fall Short Of National Championship

Penn State Hockey’s Evan Barratt, Aarne Talvitie Participate In World Junior Summer Showcase

Ally McHugh Wins 400 Medley National Championship

Student Life

Penn State Parking Office Runs Into Student Permit Purchase Issues

Students were delayed hours on Tuesday afternoon while trying to purchase on-campus parking permits.

Girirajan Lab Seeks To Bridge The Gap Between Fly And Human Genomes

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

The incident surrounding Marche’s death is “under investigation,” according to the Philadelphia police department.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Madden NFL 19 Ratings For Nittany Lions

For the second consecutive year, Sean Lee is the highest-rated Nittany Lion in the Madden video game.

Send this to a friend