Journal of the NACAA
ISSN 2158-9429
Volume 2, Issue 1 - September, 2009


Pay Equity Among Kansas Extension Agents

Alexander, P. A., Doctoral Candidate, Texas Tech University
Brown, S.C., District Agriculture Agent, University of Alaska Fairbanks


Is pay in the Cooperative Extension Service equitable among different counties, subject matter disciplines or genders? In 2007, a salary survey was conducted among all 241 Kansas Cooperative Extension Service Agents. Salaries were analyzed regarding the area within the state the Agent is employed, the county population, the number of Agents in the county, whether the Agent has director responsibilities, gender of the Agent, months of Extension employment, years of equivalent service outside of Extension, change of county employment within Extension (job hopping), position type (Agriculture and Natural Resources/4-H, Family and Consumer Sciences/4-H or 100% FTE 4-H agents), and level of education. It was found that 4-H Agents with 100% FTE earned higher salaries the lower the county population. Female Family and Consumer Science/4-H County Extension Agents make significantly less than male or female Agriculture and Natural Resources/4-H County Extension Agents. However, there was no statistically significant difference between male and female Agriculture and Natural Resources/4-H Agents. This suggests a greater value is placed upon Agriculture and Natural Resources/4-H than Family Consumer Science/4-H Agents. It should be noted that almost all Extension Agents in Kansas have 4-H responsibilities. Results from this study are likely similar in other states.


In Kansas, almost all County Extension Agents are categorized as Family Consumer Science/4-H Agents (FCS) or Agriculture and Natural Resources/4-H Agents (ANR). Also, almost all Extension Agents have 4-H responsibilities. While a few counties and districts have 100% full time equivalent 4-H Agents, most fall into these two discipline categories. It is not uncommon for Agents to wonder if their pay is equitable to Agents in other counties and if the pay is equitable among the two different disciplines. This study analyzes factors such as geography, education, county size, "job-hopping" and gender in determining the salaries of Kansas 4-H Agents.

Literature Review

There have been many studies examining pay equity in other fields such as Isaacs (1995), but no studies have been published examining pay equity at Kansas State Research and Extension (KSRE). If the research reported by Isaacs (1995) and Clark (2006) can be generalized to KSRE, then factors such as gender can result in a 10-23% reduction in salary when female agents are compared to male agents. In addition to gender, education was another variable that affected salary. United States (2006) found that the difference in salary between an Extension Agent with a Bachelor's degree, Master's degrees or doctoral degree was more than $10,000 annually for each degree completed.


All Kansas Extension Agents employed by K-State Research and Extension (KSRE) as of September 1, 2007 were included in this study. The variables in the study were: geographic region within the state, county population, number of agents in the county, director responsibilities, gender, months of KSRE employment, years of equivalent service outside of KSRE, change of county employment within KSRE, position type, level of education, and timeliness of obtaining a Master's degree. Agents were compared by salary.


Geographical location played an important role in an Agent's compensation. Agents employed in the Southeast and Northwest areas of the state were paid lower than those in the Northeast and Southwest areas. The average difference in pay for Agents employed in the Southeast was $2,296 and the difference in pay for County Extension Agents employed in the Northwest was $1,890.

Larger populated counties were higher in pay than smaller, rural counties. In fact, the model predicted that for every increase of 1000 people in a county, the salary of that Agent was increased by $17.

The number of Agents in a county also negatively impacted salary. For every increase of one Agent serving in a county, salary decreases by $295. As the number of Agents within a county increases, so does the specialization of that agent. Therefore, as County Extension Agents become more specialized their pay decreases.

Serving as a County Extension Director in Kansas typically increased salary the most. County Extension Directors typically had salaries $12,629 higher than their non-director colleagues. Another factor positively affecting salary was previous years of non Extension experience. For every year of non-KSRE experience, salary was predicted to increase $263. Months of experience as a KSRE Agent was also analyzed and the model predicted that for every month of KSRE experience, a County Extension Agents salary increased $52.

"Job-hopping" (accepting KSRE Agent positions in other counties) was analyzed by considering whether an Agent had been previously employed by KSRE. Job-hopping does have a positive impact on salary compensation by an average of $1,835.

Not surprisingly, Agents with Masters degrees earned more than Agents with bachelors degrees. A Masters degree translated into a $2,550 larger salary.

There were two interesting results involving gender. At the time of the study, all FCS Agents were female but not all ANR Agents were male. FCS Agents typically made $2,644 less than their ANR counterparts. There was not a significant difference in male/female pay among ANR Agents.

The second variable involving gender and impacting salary compensation was the correlation among population, position, and gender for female 4-H Agents. A few counties and Extension districts do have 100% FTE 4-H Agents and all of them were women. There was a $15 decrease in salary for every 1000 person increase in population. This means larger urban counties pay their 100% FTE 4-H Agents worse than more rural counties.


In Kansas, the single largest influence on Agent salary is whether or not they serve in the capacity of County/District Extension Director. This was regardless of the Agentís subject matter responsibility. Other important factors included whether Agents lived in the more affluent Northeast and Southwest Kansas counties. Family and Consumer Science County Extension Agents make significantly less than male or female Agriculture County Extension Agents. However, there was no statistically significant difference between male and female ANR Agents. This suggests, however, that women can make higher salaries as ANR Agents, but they must cross the line into largely male dominated positions. Fortunately, this also suggests that there is no pay disparity based on gender. Unfortunately, this may also mean that the discipline of Family and Consumer Science is less valued than the discipline of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It is unknown whether this is influenced by gender or some other factor. The fact that 100% FTE female 4-H Agents make more in rural counties could be due to the higher amount of visibility an Agent may enjoy in a smaller county. When an Agent is able to spend more hours with the individuals they serve, their performance may be looked at more positively, and thus, their compensation was increased.

Literature Cited

Clark, Hannah. 2006. Are Women Happy Under the Glass Ceiling? Forbes.
Retrieved November 14, 2007 from
Isaacs, Ellen. 1995. Gender Discrimination in the Workplace: A Literature Review.
Association for Computing Machinery. Communications of the ACM, 38, 58-60.
USDA CSREES. 2006. Salary Analysis was of Cooperative Extension Service Positions.
Article found at /report.html. Retrieved June 20, 2007.