People say it all the time, “it’s a shame we don’t pay teachers what they deserve.  It is the most important job and we do not compensate teachers enough.”

But what people should be saying is, “It’s a shame we still keep women in positions unequal to those of men.  It’s probably because we have a tradition of keeping women down in this country and we don’t intend to change.”

Think I’m crazy?  Here are three reasons why teacher salaries are a direct reflection of how we feel about women in this country.

  1. According to the Demographic Profile of Teachers in the U.S. conducted by National Center for Education, 84% of teachers in 2011 were female.  That says a lot about low salaries in the profession.  Since women have dominated the profession since the US instituted public education, it makes sense for those holding the purse strings to continue the tradition of paying women less.  Low wages in the teaching profession are in line with what continues to happen nationally in all professions.  For example, women who work full-time are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. African-American women are paid 62 cents, and Latinas are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to men.  According to the nonprofit advocacy group The National Partnership for Women & Families, at the rate we are going, women’s pay will not catch up to men’s for another 40 years.
  2. Many see teaching as babysitting, so naturally women would be tasked with the job.  Actually, babysitters are paid more than many teachers.  The average teacher’s salary is $50,000; however, in many counties it is more like $35,000-$40,000. Now divide it into an average teaching year of 180 days, which equals $277.77 per day.  Divide that by 7.5 hours, which is the CONTRACT time (teachers work way passed this everyday) and you get $37.04 per hour.  Then divide that by an average class size, 30 students, which equals $1.23 per hour per student.  That’s a deal considering I pay my babysitter $20 per hour to watch one child and my babysitter does not have to increase my daughter’s standardized test scores.
  3. There are ways to augment insufficient teaching salaries but those opportunities, wait for it, are usually given to men.  For example, a teacher can pick up coaching gigs and other pay supplements.  However, how many coaching gigs do you see women dominating in this country?  A head football coaching supplement in Florida is $3,305 and his assistants get $1,874.  He can have up to 7 assistants.  That’s $16,000 extra dollars going into a male dominated position.  A girl’s soccer coach will make about $2,000 and a cheerleading coach will make about $1300.  All significantly less than football coaches.  In addition, football coaches tend to teach PE and weightlifting, which are areas not assessed by standardized tests; so the accountability factor is much less on the football coach than it is on the regular classroom teacher.  Just to put things into perspective, an academic coach, a position typically filled by females is $275 per year.

Other perplexing aspects of the profession may cause you to scratch your head when thinking of inequality.  For example, why is there not a comprehensive childcare plan for a profession dominated by mothers?  Why are benefits for many in the teaching profession outrageously expensive?  For example, two children on a teacher’s benefits package can cost over $750 per month, or 25% of a teacher’s salary.  That’s a little much.  But it does keep women exactly where this country likes them: financially inferior, ill equipped in terms of childcare and flexibility, and working harder than men to receive less.

5 Responses

  1. Annmarie ferry

    I am lucky enough to have a second income (much higher) in the household and benefits for my kids through my husband’s employer. However, I know lots of single moms and two-teacher households that struggle to make ends meet because of the outrageous benefits premiums. What does it say when teachers have to put their kids on state funded medical insurance for their kids and qualify because of their embarrassingly low salary and inflated insurance costs? It says we don’t treat teaching as a profession, and it is both maddening and sad.

    • Kathleen Jasper

      Even more maddening is we do not invest resources in education but continue to complain when students are deficient. Even more maddening is the fact that a profession dominated by women ignores the financial and child care needs of it’s workers. It’s not like teachers aren’t working for it. Every teacher I know busts her (and his) ass with very little money and resources. We need to start funding education in a way that says we actually care about education. Thanks for your comments Annmarie!

  2. Jan Doten

    When I first went into teaching back in 1978, the district I worked for paid male teachers a higher salary because they supposedly were the family bread winers! I didn’t agree then and still don’t.

    • Kathleen Jasper

      That is ridiculous! Women are the primary bread winners now. And that should’t matter. You pay people based on their work not their gender. Thanks for commenting. We are glad you’re here!


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