Faculty service expectations are broken—but you can fix them

What to do about the workload imbalance among your faculty

A study shows that women faculty take on more service work than their male peers, Colleen Flaherty writes for Inside Higher Ed.  

Two higher education policy researchers analyzed 19,000 tenured and tenure-track faculty responses from a 2014 national survey that asked how they spend their time. Researchers supplemented this analysis with faculty activity reports from research universities. The services performed by faculty were divided into "internal" and "external" based on whether each was done on campus or off campus.

The results suggested that women faculty nationwide:

  • Perform 30 to 36 minutes more service work per week than their male colleagues;
  • Complete 1.4 to 1.5 more service activities per year than their male colleagues;
  • Take on one more internal service activity annually than their male colleagues; and
  • Conduct more community service and national service than their male colleagues.

The authors explored several factors that might contribute to the imbalance and found they varied by field or were difficult to measure. For example, in STEM, a female department chair correlated to more external service for women. But in social science, male department chairs correlated to more department-based service for women.

The authors recommend a few ways to fix this imbalance at your institution:

  • Rethink how work assignments are distributed;
  • Build accountability measures at the departmental and institutional levels; and
  • Encourage women to be as protective of their research time as men are.

A large part of why this disparity exists is that women often seek to avoid the perception that they are not a "team-player," says Joya Misra, a professor of sociology and public policy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who has studied gender bias among faculty (Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 4/12).

Don't just talk about diversifying your faculty—take action.


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