Below is a statement from Prof. Judith Storch, one of the plaintiffs in a pay equity lawsuit, appearing at an October 15 press conference. She is a Distinguished Professor of Nutritional Sciences in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, with 28 years at Rutgers University.
I’m Judy Storch, Distinguished Professor in the Nutritional Sciences Department at Rutgers New Brunswick. My laboratory, which has trained dozens of undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers, can be broadly classified as a Biomedical Sciences research lab. I have been funded continuously as a Principal Investigator by the National Institutes of Health for the entire time that I’ve been a faculty member at Rutgers. I have been invited to give over 150 research talks in the United States and abroad. I am Editor in Chief of a highly respected scientific journal in my field, which is cell and molecular lipid (or fat) biology. Recently, I was elected as a Fellow of the American Society for Nutrition, the highest honor bestowed by the society. In teaching and in service, my contributions to the University and to my profession have been abundant, recognized, and rewarded.
I am deeply appreciative of Professors Deepa Kumar and Nancy Wolff for so eloquently communicating the clear rationale behind our participation in this legal action. I concur fully with their statements. I will add just a few points to their narratives.
I’ll start with a quote from my mother, who said the following to me when I called to tell her that I’d been promoted to Full Professor: That’s great Judy. But if you knew you were going to work this hard, why didn’t you become a REAL doctor?
What I’ve tried to let my mother know, over the years, is how thoroughly I enjoy being a “PhD-doctor,” as she calls it: a professor and especially a research-active professor. That I have the most wonderful colleagues, that my students invigorate and challenge me, that I have the opportunity to explore and exchange ideas with brilliant people. And to do work that contributes to our collective health and well-being. The composite of my work—in research, teaching, and service—means that yes, I do work hard.
So much so that I admittedly did not even open the emails from the union about the Pay Equity Program, needing to fend off the never-ending email avalanche and focus on the many items on my to-do list. But then a colleague said to me: you ought to take a look at this program, I bet you’ll find it enlightening. So one weekend I decided to open the emails and have a look at the comparative salary data that had been compiled. It’s safe to say that I was stunned. Floored, astounded at how much less I was being paid than the average of my largely male counterparts, namely Distinguished Professors in the Biomedical Sciences. And then I looked further and saw that in virtually every category, for every rank in every department or program, women were being paid less than men. This struck me as clearly unjust and unfair.
“Justice, justice you shall pursue” is a central tenet that I was raised with and that informs my thinking and, I believe, my actions as an individual. I am not a litigious person—to put it mildly—and in fact, this is all very new and frankly uncomfortable to me. I nevertheless have come forward because I believe that this is the right thing to do. I am deeply committed to my work at Rutgers, and as I said, I truly honor and admire my colleagues here. I really like the deans of my school. In fact, I believe that my male colleagues are supportive of the just concept of equal pay for substantially similar work, and that they too would be dismayed to see the structural pay inequities that exist at our university.
My hope is that by speaking out along with my sister plaintiffs, I might help bring to light the problem of pay inequity at Rutgers. I sincerely hope that the university will do the right thing, not just by the five of us but for everyone who is paid less for doing substantially similar work as their peers. It is truly disturbing that marked pay inequities still remain at the university, even 50-plus years after Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her female colleagues at Rutgers filed a lawsuit and won.