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Former ISU professor alleges gender discrimination in pay

By: - January 16, 2022 12:00 pm

Lake LaVerne is on the campus of Iowa State University. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

A retired Iowa State University professor is suing the school for gender discrimination related to pay.

Silvia R. Cianzio, a former professor in the Agronomy Department at ISU, claims in a newly filed lawsuit that for years she was paid less than her male colleagues at the school.

The lawsuit, filed in Polk County District Court, alleges that all female professors within the Agronomy Department where she worked were paid less than the male professors, despite equal work requirements.

Cianzio was employed by ISU from 1979 through 2020, when she retired. Last August, Cianzio filed charges of employment discrimination with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, which then issued a notice allowing her to pursue her claim in state court.

She alleges that as the chairperson of the Agronomy Department’s committee on diversity and equity, she reviewed salary information for the department and discovered that male professors were being paid more than female professors across the board and in each category of professorship.

The female full professors earned, on average, substantially less than male professors, and female associate professors and assistant professors faced similar disparities in pay, the lawsuit alleges.

Specifically, Cianzio claims she was paid $11,276 to $46,049 less, per year, than the male professors specializing in plant breeding.

Cianzio is seeking unspecified damages from Iowa State University and the Iowa Board of Regents.

The defendants have yet to file a response to the lawsuit.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.