Issues & Analyses: Generation Ratify Amherst Explores Town’s Gender Pay Gap
By Julian Hynes, with Kaz Andrews, Cameron Baird, Marisol Pierce Bonifaz, Ada Paessel and Cady Reiken
The following article appeared previously in The Graphic and is reposted here with permission.
Generation Ratify Amherst is the local chapter of a national, intersectional, youth-led movement fighting for the enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment into the Constitution and widespread gender equity. Generation Ratify Amherst launched a research project last year to examine the salaries of town employees in the Pioneer Valley in relation to gender. The data stated below is based on the Town of Amherst Gross Wages.
The average compensation for men who are employed by the Town of Amherst was calculated at $86,000. In comparison, the average compensation for women employed by the Town of Amherst is $69,000. That is a $17,000 gender pay discrepancy. The town’s only department with a negligible gender pay gap was the Amherst Department of Public Works.
In addition, Generation Ratify Amherst calculated the percentage of women and men per department and looked at their pay.
Sixty percent of Jones Library employees were female, ARPS School District employees were 57% female, the Public Works Department had 20% female employees, the Fire Department had 20% female employees, and the Amherst Police Department had 13% female employees.
The employees who get paid the least have the most women on staff and require the most education while those who get paid the most have the fewest women on staff and require the least education. As the percentage of women on staff decreases and the percentage of men on staff increases in each town department, salaries rise in tandem. Meanwhile, most library positions require a master’s degree in library science and teachers are required to earn a master’s degree to gain a professional license. Conversely, police officers must have a high school diploma and have completed training at a police academy, so Amherst offers an education salary incentive for police who achieve higher education (25% for master’s degree, 20% for bachelor’s degree, and 10% for an associate’s degree, according to amherstma.gov).
Generation Ratify Amherst also looked at Amherst municipal employees who have compensation figures over $130,000 per year. Approximately 2.77% of full-time-equivalent Amherst municipal employees and an estimated 20% of all Amherst residents make over $130,000 per year. Of these top earners, only 5% are women, only 10% are people of color; 85% are both white and male. The vast majority of the aforementioned employees are police officers with the Amherst Police Department where over 87% of staff are men.
In closing, Generation Ratify Amherst is sharing this data in an effort to educate the public on how their tax dollars are spent, and who benefits. We also hope that the Town of Amherst’s elected officials use this information when deciding how and where to make cuts more equitably during our current FY24 budget crisis.
Yesterday, March 14, 2023, was Equal Pay Day in the United States, yet town employees in Amherst suffer from a gender pay gap far larger than the national average of $10,000. These employees making over $130,000 per year have more than enough, while other staff people in our Schools, Library Branches, Fire Department and DPW are struggling to make ends meet.
Given this data, we urge the Town Council to consider making Amherst more equitable and cutting costs at the same time.
The general public did elect 12 female councilors, pointing to where their priorities may lie.
1 thought on “Issues & Analyses: Generation Ratify Amherst Explores Town’s Gender Pay Gap”
I am so deeply appreciative to the members of Generation Ratify Amherst, who did this work. (And, to The Graphic, which shared their work, and cooperatively allows reprinting for further sharing.)
These numbers are disheartening, but they tell us something of where we need to go — especially as we look at funding situations in schools, libraries, police, and fire departments.