Island University Professor Wins National Award for Gender Equality Research

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi College of Business Professor Dr. Murphy Smith and his colleague Dr. Hannah Russell won the Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) Outstanding Published Manuscript Award from the American Accounting Association Gender Issues and Work-Life Balance Section.

The award was presented at the section’s annual meeting, held in San Francisco. The award-winning paper, “How Corporate Internal Auditors can Advance Gender Equality,” was published in the journal “Internal Auditing.” Each author received a plaque and cash prize.

“People in the same job position and producing the same job performance should be paid the same,” Smith said. “Gender discrimination is legally prohibited in many countries.”

For example, in the United States, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination due to race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The law has been supplemented with legislation that prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, age, and disability.

Russell said corporate management, including internal auditors, can help corporations in their efforts to achieve gender equality and other socially responsible goals.

“There is almost universal agreement that well-run, ethically responsible businesses pay all employees fair wages that are gender neutral,” Russell said. “Even so, there is much attention on the gender pay gap. However, the calculation is often misrepresented by the media.” The gender pay gap is the difference between the average pay of all men and the average pay of all women.

Russell said the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the median earnings of full-time female employees working full-time are about 77 percent of the median earnings of male full-time employees; however, this calculation is not adjusted for such factors as total hours worked, level of education, and years of work experience.

“In the United States, after adjusting for relevant factors, such as hours worked, the gender pay gap is virtually eliminated,” Smith said. “This is good news, that in the U.S., women and men are paid equally for the same work. However, this is not the case in many countries around the world, countries where many U.S.-based companies carry out their business operations.”

Smith said that even in countries where there is little or no adjusted gender pay gap for the nation as a whole, there may still be cases of discrimination within individual companies.

“The issue of gender and pay is actually much deeper than simply annual salary,” Russell said. “The number one reason women leave their jobs is not because of level of pay, but because of not having enough family time. While studies have shown the extensive societal benefits of children spending their early development years with a parent, the United States falls behind relative to other countries in paid maternity leave. Paid maternal leave improves children’s learning and reduces delinquency. This benefits everyone in society.”

The authors conclude that companies should make every effort to be well-run, ethically responsible operations, which include paying all employees fair wages that are gender neutral. Corporate managers can help their organizations achieve gender equality in pay and other socially responsible goals. Businesses can advance gender equality by making sure that equal work results in equal pay, ensuring that the employee recruiting and promotion processes are gender neutral, including women and men in top leadership, providing training on gender issues and work-life balance, conducting a gender pay audit, and advancing gender-related social issues such as paid maternal leave.

Smith is a Professor of Accounting in the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi College of Business. He teaches on the RELLIS Campus.

Russell earned her Ph.D. in Agriculture from Texas A&M University-College Station. She is an accomplished researcher and teacher.