A new study led by Joy Misra, a professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, shows that faculty workloads are not distributed equally by race and gender. But the study found that there specific strategies that can be used to solve the problem of unequal workload.
Using data collected from a large group of respondents in 53 academic departments at 22 institutions of higher learning, Dr. Misra and her team explored how faculty members perceive workload in their department and whether there were differences in these perceptions between genders and among different racial and ethnic groups.
The researchers found that White women perceive that their departments have less equitable workloads and are less committed to workload equity than White men, while women of color perceive that their departments are less likely to credit their important work through departmental rewards systems than White men.
“Women of color are more likely to be asked to do service, especially around diversity issues,” Dr. Misra says. “It is also harder to retain these faculty members. By identifying that women of color are less likely to think that the most important work they do is credited in their department’s rewards systems, we better understand why retention is such a problem for colleges and universities.”
The team also found that the effects of women of color perceiving inequitable workload and unfair evaluation of workload are reduced if they perceive their department as having transparent and clear workload criteria and fair workload assignment practices. The researchers found that faculty members in departments with greater transparency in workloads – knowing not only what they do, but what their colleagues do – perceive their departments as having more equitable workloads. This is important, they say, because it serves as a clear indicator that there are ways to mitigate inequitably assigned workloads and unfairly evaluated performances.
The full study, “Gendered and Racialized Perceptions of Faculty Workloads,” was published on the website of the journal Gender & Society. It may be accessed here.