Pay Inequality


Pay Inequality



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The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Houston, Texas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Lovell Jones, PhD

We petitioned to get the salary records of all the faculty and then we sent it to an outside group who looked at the salary ranges.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

How did the administration respond to that request?

Lovell Jones, PhD

Not happily.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

But they did?

Lovell Jones, PhD

They had to. They took their good time to address it, but they did.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

What were the findings?

Lovell Jones, PhD

That there was a serious discrepancy between title and rank and salary for both women and minorities here. But the interesting thing was, when they created this committee to look at the data and to go to an outside consulting firm to do more, I’ll never forget, they asked Francis to be co-chair, along with Margaret, and the response was—and Francis told me. He said the response was, “They already knew your opinion, so they didn’t want you on the committee.” (laughs) So, well, they know Margaret’s opinion. (laughter) So, you know, what’s the difference? And they never could come up with an answer, but anyway.

But because of Francis, I got placed on the committee, and I’ll never forget, when they were doing the analysis and the company the did the survey said, “Well, you know, not that many blacks responded to the survey,” and I said, “Oh, how many?”

They said, “Six.”

I said, “That’s all that’s here.” (laughs) And the guy looked at me. I said, “You got 100 percent response, because that’s all that’s here.” (laughter)

He says, “Wow. But it seems that the Asians are happy.”

I said, “Let’s see. On the report you know their country of origin, you know when their visa was approved, and therefore you know the department they’re in. Let’s see if I could begin to name each person and match their survey with their name. These guys are not dumb. So what do you expect them to say? ‘I’m unhappy with the senior administration and I love the salary I’m being paid because I’m here in America’?” I said, “Guys, let’s be serious about this.”

And they went, “Oh.”

I said, “So I would take the responses on your survey with a grain of salt and go forward.”

And I have to say, it did lead to a change in the leadership for women. Margaret ended up being vice president of faculty affairs and then ultimately provost, and we ended up with women chairs, but for—

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

And for the record, just let me say, we’re referring to Margaret Kripke.

Lovell Jones, PhD

Right. But for the real issue that I pushed, the need for at least more African Americans brought since, I guess there were some changes. We’re now up to about thirty, I guess, that are here, physicians. But most of them are not on tenure track.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

What’s your evaluation—what’s the obstacle? I mean, what’s stopping progress from being made more quickly?

Lovell Jones, PhD

I think who you are and the experiences you have determine the solutions to the problem. So if you don’t think there’s a problem, then you don’t need to come up with a solution. Yeah, I jokingly say to the administration, and have said for a number of years to the administration, “You’re going to run out of white people to treat. May not be now, but at some point, but you don’t see it because you’re still doing well, you’re doing financially well, and therefore there’s no incentive to make a change.”

This hospital is functional in economics. When economics change—the change in the charter of the institution was really scapegoated on the poor and minorities when they changed the charter from a referral hospital to an open admissions hospital. “Oh, we’re getting too many poor people. There are too many poor people coming from Houston, including minorities. We need to treat them over at Ben Taub and keep them out of here. We’re going to send our physicians over to Ben Taub.” The state went into a panic, “Oh, this is our crown jewel that’s being threatened financially.”

And in the end, when analysis was done, it wasn’t that group. It was just the economy that was going the way it was. But if you look at the number of minority patients, poor patients that come, there was a major dip that took place, and we never recovered from that in terms of the dip.

Then you look at the marketing people who say that they’re going after Hispanics, but they have to earn more than $45,000 a year for us to go after them, that’s an oxymoron in terms of you’re really not going after Hispanics.

When I got the money to create the congressionally mandated Center for Research of Minority Health—what’s his name? Used to be in GI, and I can’t think of his name now. Marty Raber and I became—we’re good friends. We came about the same time. And Marty said, “If you’re going to really do this, you’re going to need a strategic plan, and you’re going to need a strategic plan that blends with the hospital, right?”

“Well, who’s going to do that?”

He said, “I’ll lend my staff to do that,” the same staff that’s doing the strategic plan for the hospital.

So when I first met with the staff, they were not happy campers about doing it, even though one of them was a person of color. They were not happy because they knew it wasn’t in line with where things were going. And I made them a bet. I said, “Listen.” I said, “Where do you think most of the African American cancer patients, breast cancer patients go for treatment?” I said, “I notice Ben Taub [unclear], but that’s not there.” I said, “I want you to do this survey, and if it is Ben Taub, then I’ll pay you and your wives’ dinners to wherever you want to go. But if it’s not Ben Taub, I want you to come here with a different [unclear] attitude to work on this.”

They came back and the attitude was changing and they were doing all this stuff. I said, “Where do you think they went?”

“You know where they went.”

I said, “No, I just want you to tell me.”

“You know, Dr. Jones. You know.”

I said, “No, I don’t. I have a guess, but I don’t have all the facts and figures.”

And they said, “HCA hospitals.”

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

What’s HCA?

Lovell Jones, PhD

Hospital Corporation of America. And I said, “Oh, that philanthropic poor people you don’t pay anything for them to go into.”

“You know they’re private.”

I said, “Yeah, but, you know, they take care of all these poor minorities that have no money.” I said, “Go down to the middle of Houston at five o’clock and see the colored people that walk out of those buildings, that for the people of color they don’t give insurance to and the people that are not of color they give insurance to, and you go out in front of HSD [phonetic], the same thing. So those people go someplace with the insurance. Why don’t they come here? So that’s why we’re doing the survey. Okay?”

And they did a fantastic job in terms of the strategic plan. Unfortunately, the administration didn’t accept it, but they did a fantastic job and laid the foundation and the data that they were able to generate, really. And I said to them, “You know, there’s a whole different [unclear] with regards to minorities, poor people as well, that if you treat the poorest in that family, then the richest in that family is going to come to you. But if you don’t treat poor Uncle George, who seems to be the matriarch or the patriarch of the family and so forth, [unclear].”

I said, “That’s why in terms of Baylor and before [unclear] all this stuff, but that’s why their patient population is so diverse. That’s why they’re able to do the clinical things that they’re able to do, because they say if you go to Ben Taub, the faculty that treats you at Ben Taub will be the same faculty that treats you at Methodist. And so we’ll take care of poor Joe over at Ben Taub, but we’ll take care of rich Susan over at—but the same physician—over at Methodist. We’ll give you the same care.” I don’t know if that’s—but they put forth that perception.

We still don’t do that. So people understand that and know that, and we tell ourselves that we’re doing it and we try to generate the perception that we’re doing it, but we really don’t. So that’s why that’s that gap in terms of the four times breast cancer mortality rate in this city. Or you go to any disease.

And that’s why I sat at the meeting last week and got up, and I could see the frown on Dr. DePinho’s face, but I said, “You know, there’s a chasm between Third Ward Houston, which is right across on the other side of Hermann Park, and the Texas Medical Center.” I said, “The health in that area is third-world health, yet we have the number-one medical center in the world sitting right across the golf course. That’s unacceptable. We need to do something about that, because in the end, that’s going to be the Achilles heel for everybody.”

I gave a talk and one of the richest men in Houston was at that talk, somewhere within the top four hundred rich people, or maybe higher. And he told me his son died from a health disparity. I questioned him, and he said, “My son had a major head injury. Both Ben Taub and Hermann were on diversion. The closest-level bed was Dallas. My son died between here and there.” That’s a health disparity, but we don’t think about that in that sense. We say, “Oh, those poor people. Ben Taub, Hermann. Hmm.” But when you have a major injury, head trauma or something like that, those are the places. You don’t think about Methodist. You don’t think about the other hospital. You think about there, because that’s the place that’s going to save your life.

Pay Inequality