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How much are Cuesta College employees paid? Search our database

San Luis Obispo Tribune logo San Luis Obispo Tribune 12/7/2020 Mackenzie Shuman, The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)

Cuesta College’s workforce lacks diversity compared to its student body, and women employees are generally paid less than their male colleagues at the community college, according to an analysis of demographic and salary data by The Tribune.

The 13,000-student community college, which has three campuses in San Luis Obispo County, has a mostly-white employee base, which reflects San Luis Obispo County demographics.

San Luis Obispo County’s population is about 69% white and 23% Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In comparison, about 71% of Cuesta College’s employees are white and 13% are Hispanic or Latino.

Cuesta College’s student population is 49% white and 33% Hispanic or Latino, according to 2019 data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Female employees at Cuesta College generally get paid less — but that is largely because they’re newer hires. Women in management positions at the community college are paid a median salary nearly $21,000 less than the median salary of men working at the college.

The gap lessens when looking at full-time and tenured faculty, who have generally been on staff for about 15 years. In that case, women are paid about $2,100 less than men.

For those working in classified positions — the average years of service is 8.5 years — women are paid about $4,000 more than men.

When it comes to those working in full-time, tenured faculty and management positions, Hispanic and Latinx employees at Cuesta College are generally paid more than their white colleagues. Those working in classified positions, however, are paid about $2,600 less than their white colleagues.


How did we report this story?

Tribune reporter Mackenzie Shuman requested the salary and demographic data of all Cuesta College employees for 2020. A deeper look into the data showed gender pay disparities, and a lack of diversity in the community college’s workforce compared to that of its student body. Shuman spoke to leaders at Cuesta College to find out more about these issues.

Cuesta College leaders say they’re working to diversify workforce

Pay inequities and the college’s comparative lack of employee diversity have not gone unnoticed by Cuesta College leaders, who say they are actively working to improve hiring processes to bring in a more diverse workforce.

Melissa Richerson, Cuesta College’s assistant superintendent and vice president of human resources, said the college recently began trying a blind hiring program.

When a prospective employee sends in an application, Richerson said the college removes all personally identifiable information — such as the applicant’s name, address, gender, marital status and where they got their college degree — before it is sent to the hiring manager

“They’re really having a very impartial focus on the education and experience,” Richerson said.

Additionally, Cuesta College has a Equal Employment Opportunity plan, Richerson said, which requires the community college to take a look at what barriers potential job applicants may have and work to break those down. This allows applicants to apply for a job at Cuesta College when they may not be able to travel for an interview or may lack a letter of recommendation, Richerson said.

These initiatives have worked, Richerson said, and the community college has slowly seen a more diverse pool of applicants.

But building a diverse workforce is challenging, and change doesn’t come overnight, Richerson cautioned.

“There are barriers to coming to San Luis Obispo County — a lot of times the cost of living is challenging for those of us who relocate,” Richerson said. “Also, our college doesn’t have a lot of turnover ... so we just don’t have a lot of hiring that goes on annually.”

Cuesta College will only see a diverse pool of applicants if the community college offers opportunities for students and staff that are attractive to everyone, said Mark Sanchez, Cuesta College’s vice president of student success and support programs.

Cuesta College has submitted an application to be a part of the Umoja Community — a statewide leadership program for Black students — and has implemented safe space training for employees, Sanchez said.

Mental health therapists at the college are going through training on how to effectively serve the LGBTQ community at the college, Sanchez added.

“I think this all resonates with someone saying, ‘I want to be a part of a community that offers this diverse programming to our students,’ ” Sanchez said. “We’re building our profile to ensure that prospective applicants see this as a welcoming place for them as an employee.”

Search our database of Cuesta College salaries

The Tribune obtained 2020 salary data from Cuesta College. Type in an employee’s name or job title to find out how much they are paid.


©2020 The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)

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