All female faculty members at the University of Waterloo this week received emails informing them of unexpected raises taking effect Sept. 1.

While they saw that in itself as good news, some found it a little less of a positive sign when they realized why their pay was going up.

University officials had determined that male faculty members were being paid significantly more than their female counterparts.

As a result, each of the 300-plus female faculty members at Waterloo will earn nearly $3,000 more over the coming year.

“As soon as we discovered this, we believed that it was our responsibility to address it,” said school president Feridun Hamdullahpur.

“We can’t go back and change history, but we have ability to influence the future.”

Shannon Dea, an associate professor of philosophy, says she has “mixed feelings” about the increase – because it’s the third time an “anomaly” in her pay has been found in the nine years she’s been at the school.

“I was surprised that there was another one,” she said.

Bringing pay equity to the school’s educators will cost more than $1 million.

Hamdullahpur says he’s not concerned by that figure.

“This is the right thing to do,” he said.

The school will review pay equity again in five years’ time, Hamdullahpur said.

Dea says she wants other schools to follow Waterloo’s lead – McMaster University and the University of British Columbia previously addressed similar discrepancies – and the private sector to also look at its pay equity.

“It’s much harder for individuals in the private sector to fight for redress to these kinds of inequities,” she said.

With reporting by Nicole Lampa