Unequal pay for equal work? Unpacking the gender gap in principal compensation

Jason A. Grissom, Jennifer D. Timmer, Jennifer L. Nelson, Richard S.L. Blissett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate the male–female gap in principal compensation in state and national data: detailed longitudinal personnel records from Missouri and repeated cross-sections from the nationally representative Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). In both data sets, we estimate substantively important compensation gaps for school leaders. In Missouri, female principals make approximately $1,450 less annually than their male colleagues with similar characteristics, including experience level and degree attainment, leading the same school in different years. Gaps are present in both base salary and extra duty salary, and are only partially explained by career paths or workplace sorting. SASS analyses show that women make about $1,000 less than men nationally, on average, a gap that even grows larger once accounting for individual and workplace characteristics, teacher-supplied effectiveness ratings, and reported hours worked. The presence of these residual gaps after accounting for many supply-side explanations may signal gender discrimination in school principal compensation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102114
JournalEconomics of Education Review
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Compensation
  • Educator labor market
  • Gender
  • School leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Economics and Econometrics


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