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For Women at the Top: Less Money, Fewer Perquisites

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Women who head independent schools make less money and receive far fewer perquisites and other benefits than their male counterparts, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Independent Schools.

The survey of independent-school leaders found that in 1984 women heads of nais member schools earned an average salary of $37,400, 15 percent less than the $43,800 average salary earned by their male colleagues.

Women who preside over single-sex schools make salaries on a par with men heading such schools, in the low $40,000 range, according to James B. Stockdale, one of the study's two authors. But women who head coeducational schools earn salaries in the low $30,000 range, considerably less than the salaries of men heading similar schools, he said.

Inequities Persisting

Financed by the nais, the study was conducted last May by Mr. Stockdale, director of the lower division of the Latin School of Chicago, and Albert L. Kerr, interim head of Montgomery Academy of Montgomery, Ala.

A similar survey of nais member schools conducted by the two men in 1979 documented similar disparities. But participants at the nais conference earlier this month, which focused on gender is-sues, found the updated statistics particularly sobering.

"These studies represent the first time the association has set about quantifying in a tangible way the inequities everyone has long suspected were there," Mr. Stockdale said.

In the 1984 survey, heads of the 837 active nais member schools in the continental United States were surveyed; 756 responded. Of the respondents, 113, or 15 percent, were women.

Salary of Heads Up

Overall, the average salary of independent-school heads has nearly doubled since the earlier study, the new version documents. But as the numbers grew, the gap between women's and men's salaries re6mained the same, Mr. Stockdale pointed out . "We're perpetuating inequality, very equitably," Mr. Stockdale said.

Fewer Perquisites

The percentage of school leaders, both male and female, receiving perquisites as part of their employment package remained "fairly consistent" over the five-year period, with men more than twice as likely as women to be offered many valuable perquisites.

According to Mr. Stockdale, 61.5 percent of the men responding to the survey received housing with their jobs, while only 26.6 percent of women received that benefit; 59.2 percent of the men were reimbursed for their home utility charges, compared with 22.1 percent of the women; 60.4 percent of the men received a car with their jobs, compared with 27.4 percent of the women; and 69 percent of the men received tuition assistance for their children's education, compared with 31 percent of the women.

Better Pensions for Men

The study also found that male heads of independent schools receive better pension benefits than their female counterparts.

Schools contribute an average of 6.9 percent of a male leader's annual salary toward a pension, an average of $3,022 a year in addition to earned income. Women leaders, on the other hand, receive an average of 6 percent of their annual salary toward a pension, an average of $2,244 a year, or 25 percent less than their male counterparts.

"Women also take a bath on insurance," Mr. Stockdale said. They are less likely to be offered health, major medical, and dental insurance than men, and half as likely to be offered life insurance as part of their employment package, he said.

Faculty Development

According to the survey, women reported spending more time on faculty and staff development, and responding to concerns and questions of parents than their male counterparts. One consequence of that attention apparently is that they have fewer problems with teacher dedication and professionalism than their male colleagues who responded to the study.

"Women spend more time than men on faculty development and parental concerns, then we go and pay them less," Mr. Stockdale commented.

On the basis of the survey results, Mr. Stockdale advised school trustees who are experiencing faculty-development problems in their schools to "put a woman in the position of leadership. Looking at dollars, you're going to get a bargain. That's a terrible thing to say, but women are cheaper."

A comprehensive report on the study, which also addresses such issues as age, tenure, career path, and job stability of independent-school leaders, has not yet been released.

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