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Many quantitative pay gap studies undertaken by Canadian universities have used administrative salary data from the university’s human resources departments. For some academic staff associations, their collective agreement stipulates data sharing agreements with the institution, where the administration gives salary data to the association every year. The association may maintain its own database of salary data for investigating pay anomalies or for regular tracking of the adjusted pay gap.

In some cases, it may be very difficult for associations to obtain salary data from administration. In one pay gap study, the University of Alberta faculty committee worked around its data issue by using the province’s “sunshine list” to compile its own salary data base. However, this approach required a large amount of manual data entry to create variables critical for pay inequality analysis.9

Another approach to obtaining salary data may be to use data from Statistics Canada’s Full-time University and College Academic Staff System (UCASS). UCASS collects institutional data on university salaries by gender, age, rank, discipline, years from degree and other variables that can inform salaries. CAUT has longitudinal UCASS data by institution available for use by academic staff associations.

For other variables, if the institution does not wish to disclose, a research plan can be created that digs deeper into the issues and potential drivers of the pay gap that are of interest. For example, a sample could be done with faculty that volunteer to participate to determine if there is a gap that requires further analysis. Data on faculty member’s self-identification can also be valuable for understanding inequities from an intersectional perspective.10 The University of Alberta faculty study used data on visible minority status to explore the potential interaction of gender and racial bias on pay.  

Some studies have also used survey data, which can be useful in investigating employment inequities. The University of British Columbia’s study of 2010 points out that “Working Climate” studies have been used by some universities to understand the systematic drivers of pay inequities, noting that salary correction mechanisms themselves generally do not prevent gender pay inequities from arising.11

9 Details on data collection for this study can be found at page 2 of the report:

Rosychuk, Rhonda J. et al.. Gaps in Professorial Compensation by Gender, Visible Minority, and Indigenous People at the University of Alberta. AASUA. 2017. MergedFile (

10 Importantly, there may be restrictions in linking survey data to salary data, as discussed by Michael Ornstein in his analysis of salary anomalies at the University of Windsor, 2002. 

11 Karen Bakker et al.. An analysis of the Gender Pay Gap in Professorial Salaries at UBC: Report on the Pay Equity (Data) Working Group. University of British Colombia. 2010: Microsoft Word - Gender Pay Gap in Professorial Salaries at UBC Jan312011 _Autosaved