Editorial: Professor’s salary betrays her “Paycheck Fairness” rhetoric

Photo from TUC Library Collections, London Metropolitan University

A column in the Bangor Daily News by Luisa Deprez, a sociology professor at the University of Southern Maine, would have readers believing that our society doesn’t value woman compared to men, and that they basically work for free.

The BDN states that Deprez’s column, “Paycheck Fairness Act would help women and their families,” is part of a series that will “bring greater understanding to social and political debates.”

Deprez decries the disparity between what men and women are paid, using a statistic that is often echoed from the White House as a talking point on the subject. But the White House doesn’t seem to have its numbers straight.

A year ago, in June 2011, President Obama was using a statistic that was flat-out wrong. In a speech promoting his “equal pay” initiatives, Obama said “women still earn just 70 cents for every dollar a man earns.” Not only is that false, it hasn’t been true since at least the late 1980s.

Later the White House updated the President’s incorrect figure to say that women in fact earned “77 cents for every dollar men earn,” the number that Deprez parrots in her BDN column. Further review, however, shows that these numbers were cherry-picked by the White House and then by Deprez to help promote their agenda.

The “77 cents on the dollar” number comes from Census Bureau data that relies on annual wages data. Other reports, some of which use hourly wages as opposed to annual earnings, like a report from the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, peg the rate of women’s earnings to men’s at 86 cents on the dollar.

When accounting for factors such as occupation, industry, hours worked, education level and other lifestyle choices, the gap in gender pay shrinks even further, to as little as 5% according to one study presented to the Department of Labor in 2011.

Deprez also delves into state-specific data, saying that the disparity in Maine is even greater. “Maine women make considerably less: 68 cents” (for every dollar a man earns), Deprez declares in her column.

Says who? She doesn’t cite her source of information for that statistic. In fact, one of the studies, which cited the “77 cents on the dollar” number, found that Maine is above average: women earn 79 percent compared to what men earn. That study ranks Maine as 20th in the nation, better than average.

Another study from the Joint Economic Committee shows Maine has a 19 percent “gender pay gap,” which puts us ahead of many other states in terms of “equal pay” for men and women.

Sadly, left out amidst the clamoring and political noise is the fact that women’s pay, as a percentage of men’s, has climbed dramatically in recent years. According to one of the studies cited by Deprez, as recently as 1980 the “female-to-male earnings ratio” was below 60 percent.

Today, depending on which statistic you choose to believe, it’s anywhere from 77 percent at the worst to 95 percent in some studies. One Department of Labor study determined that for workers with a college degree who are being paid by the hour, there is no gender-pay gap at all. Clearly, there has been major progress in this area.

Deprez herself is a shining example of this progress. In 2010 she was the most highly paid employee in the sociology department at the University of Southern Maine, where she earned more than $159,000 in total compensation, according to MaineOpenGov.org.

Her success is proof of how far we’ve come as a nation in ensuring men and woman have the same opportunities for professional success, and the fact that Maine is in the top 20 is a bright spot we should be excited about.

Unfortunately, Deprez’s cherry-picked data is part of a coordinated effort to allow the government to control pay and force business to pay certain employees whatever the government tells them to. If we let government control that detail of a female’s life, what’s next?

The government control of paychecks is bad for businesses, bad for women and bad for America.

No cherry-picked data can change that.


  1. Another liberal hypocrite who believes they can say whatever they want, cite no source or substantiating evidence to support their ‘ facts ‘, and they expect us to believe it without question.
    $159,000 in total compensation, huh professor? Wish I made that much.
    Complete hypocrite this one is, but then most liberals are.

  2. Anyone still uncertain on how the cost of secondary education has sky-rocketed out of the reach of the average American family? 

  3. No one at USM is worth 150K , its that simple.  A glaring  example of what is wrong with the UM system.   

  4. Good for Dr. Deprez for being higher-paid than her male counterparts.  However, one example to the contrary does not contradict that fact that women – as a group – are paid less than men. 

  5. Hi!

    Lots of men and women get paid lousy wages depending on the job.

    There isn’t any “war on women.”

    The government does not have any delegation of authority (constitution) to decide what wages a business owner should pay
    to anyone – men or women.

  6. I am flabergasted that a USM sociology professor would make $159,000!!  And then grips about how women are under paid!..  You cant make this stuff up!.. This is the mind fork that we are going to be subjected to during this rabid election season..  Fasten your seat belt, your head is going to explode before it is over!  Unfortunately, the non-thinking newspaper readers will get sucked in and vote to screw themselves once again.

  7. Yawn..  Perhaps she should not be presenting the argument then, no?..  Her situation seems to argue against what she is saying… 

  8. I suppose she would say that FLOTUS was underpaid when a job paying $350,000 or so was created out of thin air for her at a ‘community hospital,’ and then closed out when she left.

  9. Indeed. Because Deprez is making a high wage, her pointing out that woman on average earn less then men for the same work must be wrong.

    Look at Deprez!

    Imagine if today’s highly paid NFL stars took a stand and demanded that the pension plan for football veterans from yesteryear be improved. How could these multimillionaires of today understand the plight of their predecessors?

  10.  If I posted a note that I was pleased that a male was paid more than his female counterparts, people like you would be frothing at the mouth to condemn me for my post. You, however, don’t seem to understand that your post is just as bad but then again, you are a Liberal.

  11. Nicely done. No need for over-the-top hyperbole when the facts are allowed to speak for themselves. Do we really need a $159,000 teacher for ‘sociolology’ – they’re a dime a dozen coming out of school.

  12.  DamDoc – You didn’t get the point.  NancyEH said she is HAPPY that a women is paid more than a man for the same job. That is NOT an argument.  It is an opinion and a really hypocritical opinion at that. She said it is bad for a male to earn more than a female but she HAPPY that a females is earning more than a male.  As I said….a Liberal.  Nuff said.

  13.  DamDoc…I reread what you wrote and it was I  who missed the point. We are on the same page.  Sorry for my failure to read more carefullyu.

  14. So if women are payed less, why would anyone hire a man? Straw man argument at best. But hey pass the law and then whine when women are not even hired for fear of a frivolous lawsuit. Most people I know get paid what they are worth, not what someone thinks they should be paid.

  15. Of course women have lower incomes then men. At the college where I taught women professors from the English Dept.  earning extra pay by teaching  in the evenings were outnumbered by males 2 to 1, although there were the same number and they had the same rights under the contract.

    The solution is simple—a law forbidding women from having babies.  Or, at the very least, obliging men to have babies in equal numbers.

  16. Anyone with brains enough to think they are worth more than what they are being paid, should have brains enough to ask for more money and if they don’t get it- move on to someone who values you as much as you value your self . Any commodity from firewood to fine art to female  professionals are only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. So far we still have a right to move where we want to and accept a job from an employer of our choice and just like sometimes employers get a bad Employee, sometimes you get a bad Boss. Women can reach and struggle for the wage they think they deserve just like men have done for ages. Stop whining for other people and do your own job. If you are not suffering with this condition, Shut up and let those who have the problem come up with THEIR solution. It is called letting people take responsibility for their  own life. If you want to teach them how to do that , fine, but if you really care and want them to be self sustaining you have to let them grow up.

  17. Better studies reveal that the wage gap in many areas like Education and public sector non-profits favors women, esp. when benefits like time off for child bearing and rearing are factored in.

    What is also emerging is that women don’t perform as well as men do esp. in Public Safety and military roles…there is a debate on the Hill on whether women are ‘combat ready’….and the research from armed forces with long standing integration of women, like Israel’s reveal that women are not the equal of men in most combat situations.

  18. except this is public sector work where other goals and values should be valued more than pay.

    I wonder how well this woman would do under merit or performance pay contracts?


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