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Penn State's gender pay gap among worst in Big Ten

Plus, 'the most powerful lobbyist you've never heard of.'

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Wage case, official review, money misses, water fights, bug boom, vacancy problems, and river gator versus Raystown Ray. 

Penn State's gender pay gap is among the worst in the Big Ten, with female instructional staff earning on average about 80% of what their male colleagues make, according to federal data.

Now, a Penn State Abington professor who was born in Iran is suing the university for wage, race, and gender discrimination.

In lawsuit filed last month, Faranak Pahlevani argued she earns less than an American-born male colleague despite the two doing equal work. 

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Penn State gender pay gap is among worst compared to public Big Ten schools, federal data show.

THE CONTEXT: The size of Penn State's wage gap varies with academic rank. According to adjusted federal data from the 2021-22 academic year, female professors made 88% of their male colleagues’ average salaries while female associate professors earned 87% of their male counterparts’.

For female assistant professors, the figure was 90%, while female instructors, lecturers, and instructional staff without an academic rank earned 98%, 86%, and 72% of their male colleagues’ average salaries.

Spotlight PA requested to speak with a Penn State official about the data, factors that could be creating the differences, how the university’s new budget model may address inequities, and any other university initiatives on the topic. The school declined comment on this and the lawsuit as well. 


“If it gets out we changed the language for PA it could snowball."

A Trump campaign official in 2020 trying to keep other states from learning of a legal caveat employed by pro-Trump fake electors in Pennsylvania; read more: Why Pa. 'fake electors' are unlikely to be charged
We've been challenged to raise $25,000 by Aug. 19 to unlock a HUGE $25,000 matching gift. That means your contribution will be DOUBLED. Help sustain Spotlight PA's vital reporting for the remainder of 2023 now.

Thank you to the 71 people who have given so far, including Marlene B., who said, "I'm moving to Pennsylvania in a few weeks, and reading your coverage has helped me learn so much about my future home!" Join Tyler C. and make a tax-deductible gift in support of Spotlight PA now »
» The most powerful lobbyist you’ve never heard of, via Mother Jones

» Bill to boost solar in Pa. schools has bipartisan support, via StateImpact

» Clarity sought on candidates with criminal records, via PennLive (paywall)

» Special election to decide Pa. House control — again, via Capital-Star

» Dems see Michigan, Minnesota as majority models, via AP

» Pa. reps. eye the 'very real' dangers of AI, via Technical.ly

A spy amid the house plants, via Claire G. in Oreland. Have a photo you'd like to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A cat peers through an opening between potted house plants.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.COP COUNT: After a commissioned staffing study determined Pittsburgh has too many patrol officers, both the local district attorney and city council have launched investigations to determine how the firm behind the study was hired, WESA reports.
  • RELATED: Councilor Hallam sues Allegheny County officials, asks court to compel attendance at jail oversight meetings, via WESA
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.PAC PLEDGE: Democratic Philly Mayor Jim Kenney's PAC vowed to boost progressive candidates with the money it raised, but the Inquirer (paywall) reports only a fraction reached them. Money was much more likely to be spent "on consultants and restaurant tabs."

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.WATER WARS: Philadelphia and New York City both drink from the Delaware River and once fought for control over who gets what. Now, Grid Philly reports sea-level rise and unprecedented droughts could spark a new intercity water conflict in the decades ahead.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.THE SUPERBUG: Fast Company reports on a potentially fatal pathogen called candida auris that's rapidly spreading across the U.S. The drug-resistant fungus has been reported in health care settings in Pennsylvania, with U.S. cases tripling in three years

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.EMPTY HOMES: PublicSource looks at Allegheny County's home vacancy problem through the lens of a single house, 1104 Rebecca Ave. in Wilkinsburg, one of roughly 58,000 unused units in the county as traditional channels fail to tackle the issue.
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.

CRASH SURVIVOR: A survivor of Sunday's fatal charter bus crash on I-81 near Harrisburg described the harrowing aftermath as passengers passed a stunned baby through the broken windshield to emergency responders.

  • RELATED: Small interstate bus company in fatal crash was in another Pa. collision 8 months ago, via PennLive (paywall)

WATCH NEXT: If you missed Spotlight PA's “How Local Government Works” panel last week, you can watch it here with tips on what to do when problems arise with your community’s officials.

HEALTH DECISION: PennLive reporter Christine Vendel writes about her decision to undergo a double mastectomy and reconstruction to lower her breast cancer risk and explains why she'd do it again (paywall).

RIVER REPTILE: Turns out there was an alligator in the Kiski River in southwestern Pennsylvania. The gator, now nicknamed "Chomper," was rescued by two adult kayakers Sunday evening.

LAKE MONSTER: WaPo (paywall) reports the biggest search for Scotland's Loch Ness Monster in 50 years is set to take place this month. Next up, hopefully: Pennsylvania's own Nessie — Raystown Ray.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Dolorous

Congrats to our daily winners: Tracy S., Theresa T., Julie K., Jane R., Jody A., David T., Mark O., Bruce B., Stacy S., Barbara F., Elaine C., Don H., John E., Barry L., Jon W., Mike B., Cynthia M., Kimberly D., Craig W., Susan R., Beth T., Mary S., Stanley J., Susan N.-Z., Ada M., Daniel S., Danielle S., Kim C., Beth H., Doug W., David W., Dennis M., Daniel M., Ben P., Judy M., Tish M., Susan D., Tom M., Chuck M., Randolph J., Matt C., William Z., Wendy A., Vicki U., James B., and Jerry K.
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