Balancing the Scales: Pay Inequities Corrected

Averting what could have turned into a bitter and divisive lawsuit, NIH has reached an amicable resolution on the issue of pay inequities among tenured, intramural researchers. The NIH plan, approved by PHS this spring, will provide a one-time pay adjustment for approximately 50 women and minority tenured scientists whose salaries were found not to be comparable to their male and nonminority peers with equivalent experience and performance.

"We are very pleased -- and particularly pleased that it [the agreement] was a reflection of merit as well as equal pay for equal work," says Acting NIMH Scientific Director Susan Swedo, chair of the Women Scientists Advisors, the group that, with the help of the scientific directors, conducted a detailed, institute-by-institute analysis of pay inequities among tenured scientists. "We feel particularly proud that this issue could be settled without taking action against our academic home, the NIH."

Swedo praised NIH Director Harold Varmus and Deputy Director for Intramural Research Michael Gottesman for their assistance in developing a plan to correct the pay discrepancies. The inequalities were determined using a formula to plot the regression of pay against year-since-degree for given job categories. Only a few tenured scientists per institute are expected to receive pay adjustments. Any intramural researcher with questions about the pay-equalization plan should contact the scientific director or a representative of the Women Scientists Advisors at his or her institute, center, or division, Swedo says.

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