Date of Graduation

Summer 2010


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Carol Shoptaugh


gender, wage gap, merit pay system, academia, higher education, salary compression, Equal Pay Act

Subject Categories



The purpose of this thesis was to examine a five-year trend in academic salaries at Missouri State University (MSU), since the implementation of a merit pay system, and asks the question: Do merit pay systems that do not target gender equity specifically, but rather equity in general terms, reduce the gap between genders effectively? The merit pay system was designed to provide accountability within the university for the state legislature and to institute a unique pay for performance system that would balance performance with equity. The principal equity concern within the university was salary compression and inversion, not gender. With the data available, a snapshot of the salary compression and inversion was analyzed. Salary information for ranked faculty members (n = 327) was obtained for fiscal years 2003 (baseline, prior to merit pay), 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. The results of this study suggest that some colleges within the university have more gender equity issues than others, and college-level analyses are recommended to better understand the gender wage gap. For the first time at MSU, gender was not found to be a contributor to the gender wage gap in five of the six colleges. The analyses also indicate that the equity piece of the merit pay system may not be enough to reverse the problem of inequity, but may suppress it from becoming worse.


© Nicole Renee Howland

Campus Only