Five female professors sue Vassar college over alleged pay discrimination

A group made up of female professors at Vassar College said Wednesday they have sued the institution over gender pay discrimination. Photo by Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada/Wikimedia Commons

Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Five female professors at Vassar College said Wednesday they are suing the institution over what they claim is gender pay discrimination.

The women alleged in their lawsuit that the college has known about the growing pay discrepancy for years, but left it unchecked.

The plaintiffs are Wendy Graham, a professor of English; Maria Höhn, a professor emerita of history; Mia Mask, a film professor; Cindy Schwarz, a physics professor; and Debra Zeifman, a professor in psychological science.

"Through this action, we seek to achieve what we were prevented from accomplishing through private internal channels: gender equity for ourselves and other female full faculty, and the adoption of fair processes to ensure that future generations of faculty are paid, promoted, and evaluated fairly," the women said in a statement.

The court document accuses the New York-based institution of Vassar of paying female educators less than men, along with making it more difficult to receive promotions. The plaintiff said they worked with the college for 15 years to correct the matter before filing the lawsuit.

The claim in the 2021-22 school year was that men made 10% more on average teaching than women.

"Plaintiffs -- and all Vassar female full professors-- are leaders in their fields and highly regarded by both their contemporaries and their students," attorney Kelly Dermody said. "For too long, Vassar has refused to equitably value their contributions to the college."

The lawsuit said that instead of taking steps to solve the problem, Vassar decreased the level of pay transparency to make it harder to point out the disparities.