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UM Engineering Professor Says Her Male Colleagues Make Thousands More

At universities across the nation, female professors have long complained about being paid less than their male colleagues. Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows their concerns are justified: As of 2015, male professors made an average of $18,200 more annually than female professors.

That same pay gap is in full force at the University of Miami, according to a new lawsuit. Sung Hee Joo, an assistant professor of environmental engineering, filed a complaint late last month accusing the university of gender discrimination in the way it compensates faculty members.

"[UM] has consistently hired men at considerably higher rates than women, such that the salary structure has resulted in a substantial disparity between the male and female employees," the lawsuit alleges.

A UM spokeswoman declined to comment because the case is pending.

Joo, who has worked at UM since 2014, earned a PhD from the University of New South Wales in 2005 and later worked as a research fellow at Yale and Auburn. She has written numerous journal articles about wastewater treatment, environmental contaminants, and nanotechnology.

As of 2015, Joo says, she earned $86,000 annually as a tenure-track assistant professor at UM. But her complaint says two men with the same title made thousands more each year. According to the lawsuit, one male assistant professor, Seok Lee, made at least $4,000 more than Joo, while another, Emrah Celik, was paid $4,120 more.

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Joo says her male colleagues didn't have more experience, education, or skills to explain the pay gap. And her suit says her teaching and research duties were similar to the men's.

"[Joo] received wages lower than most, if not all, of [the university’s] male assistant professors’ wages while performing the same or substantially more work than her male coworkers,” the complaint says.

Official salary databases seem to confirm Joo's complaint. Figures from the Department of Education show the average male assistant professor at UM earned $99,477 in 2016, while the average female assistant professor earned $87,507.

The gender pay gap is even more pronounced in UM's athletics department: According to an analysis by Florida Watchdog, male head coaches at the university out-earned female head coaches by a whopping 550 percent.

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