Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Flackery, UGA Style

UGA has a weekly PR release posing as news, called Columns, and just out is this piece about what is probably of no interest to anyone in the real world except college faculty: the question of gender equity in salaries. I get that most people could care less, but I'm briefly mentioning it here for a couple of reasons. First, I saw mention of it on a colleague's Facebook page and second, I'm on the University Council that discussed this. Also, I'm faculty and it's my blog, so I can care about and write about whatever I damn well please.

First, I often read Columns though usually I've heard it all before via Twitter. Helps me keep up with what's happening and it's usually a perfectly fine product. Still ....

... let me be clear -- this is a fluff PR piece that utterly fails to fairly represent the discussion at the Council and concerns about the study's methodology. At least give the other side a fair hearing, dammit. This is a university, not a corporation. And lemme guess -- the VP for Flackery is unavailable for comment, but she'll happily respond to an email in which she gets the questions in advance.

I don't want to get too PhDweeby here. It's summer and I have other stuff to do, like sipping drinks on a beach (except that I'm in my office, working, for no pay). The "news" article above glosses over any doubts about how the salary survey was conducted and offers not a single quote from folks with sophisticated statistical skills who raised serious concerns. I'm a stats nerd myself and though I don't do this kind of research, it's not all that terribly different from what I do every day.

I won't bore you with details other than to say there are reasons to doubt how this study was done or at least to question the lack of transparency by the consultant in how the study was conducted. Sorry, consultant folks, there's nothing proprietary about multiple regression. I do it every day. Wanna compare SPSS chops? Wanna go one-on-one in regression? You really don't.

There are far better people than I on the Council who raised this concerns, but you won't find this in the article. Not a hint. Though if you read between the lines, it's clear they're answering complaints during the Council meeting. Look at the quotes.

But you shouldn't have to read between the lines, UGA. C'mon. And stop calling it a newspaper. I don't think that word means what you think it means.

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