A member of the Board of Governors for Florida’s university system issued an apology to other board members this week for suggesting that pay disparities between recent male and female graduates from state universities might be the result of a “genetic” deficiency.
The remarks from board member Ed Morton came Tuesday afternoon during a meeting of the board’s strategic planning committee. The committee, chaired by Morton, was discussing a report showing that the median salary for females who graduated from the university system in 2015 and had worked full-time for one year is $5,500 less than men’s.
Morton remarked to his colleagues that women might lack the ability to argue for more pay.
“Maybe some of it is genetic. I don’t know. I’m not smart enough to know the difference,” Morton told his colleagues.
He went on to suggest that the gap in wages could be reduced if colleges would start teaching negotiating skills.
“Perhaps we can address that in all of our various curriculums through the introduction of negotiating skill, and maybe that would have a bearing on these things,” Morton said to the committee.
By Tuesday evening, Morton issued a formal apology.
“I would like to apologize for my comments this afternoon regarding the pay disparities between the genders of recent graduates of the State University System,” Morton wrote in a message to board members.
“I chose my words poorly,” Morton went on to say. “My belief is that women and men should be valued equally in the workplace.”
Morton, a retired investment manager from Naples, was appointed to the Board of Governors in 2013 by Gov. Rick Scott.
Scott, who has been on a trade mission this week to Connecticut and New York, tried to separate himself from Morton’s comments issuing a statement through a spokeswoman.
“As a father of two daughters, the Governor absolutely does not agree with this statement,” said Press Secretary Lauren Schenone.