Gender Transformation in the Academy: Volume 19

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Table of contents

(27 chapters)
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Purpose/approach

This introduction sets forth the main themes of the volume, reviews the methods employed by the contributors, and demonstrates the relationships among the chapters.

Research implications

Each of the chapters demonstrates the gendered nature of the academy and some of the ways in which women, especially women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, are disadvantaged. None of them provides complete catalogues of the issues confronting women and none reach definitive conclusions regarding the ways and means of transforming the academy. Additional research and experimentation will be required.

Practical and social implications

The gender transformation of the academy holds the promise of more opportunities for women, especially but not only in STEM disciplines and higher administration, and greater probability of balance between work and personal life for all.

Value of the chapter

The chapter serves as an overall introduction to the volume and the subject matter more generally.

Purpose

This chapter contrasts “ideal worker” with “real worker” characteristics among STEM faculty in gendered organizations. The gap between the two reveals the need for academic institutions to revise the notion of and the policies for typical faculty members.

Design

All STEM faculty at a Midwestern research intensive university were asked to participate in a mail and web-based survey to study faculty experiences within departments. The response rate was 70%. Faculty were then categorized by their employment, education, and parent status, and by the work status of their spouse/partner, to assess how closely the faculty matched the ideal academic worker: a faculty member with a full-time home-maker partner.

Findings

Only 13% of the surveyed STEM faculty resemble the “ideal worker” by having a partner who is not employed and who ensures all family care giving. The vast majority of STEM faculty are men with an employed partner who is more likely to have a professional (33%) rather than a nonprofessional (22%) degree.

Research limitations

Only one, public, research-intensive institution in the Midwest United States was surveyed and therefore findings cannot be generalized to faculty at other research intensive institutions or to other types of institutions.

Practical implications

Rather than adding policies to attract women into academia, we find an urgent need make academic institutions rethink to match the reality of most faculty. Increasing flexibility in the academic workplace is not a “women’s issue” but a “faculty issue.”

Value

This paper provides evidence that supports institutional change to accommodate the new academic workers, most of whom are part of dual career couples.

Purpose

With the rise in the number of women faculty since the 1970s, the traditional academic model of an exclusive devotion to work has been increasingly contested. Broad changes have occurred in academic culture and policies to make many universities more family-friendly. Recent research on graduate students points to a shift in attitudes about work/family management as well. Graduate students, both male and female, seem to balk at expectations for a sole devotion to an academic career to the exclusion of family life. We examine how faculty members carry out acts of resistance to this traditional model.

Methodology/approach

This article presents research from two separate but related qualitative studies for a combined sample of 74 faculty members with children.

Findings

Women and men faculty make professional and personal choices and engage in behaviors that, in essence, are acts of resistance against the dominant but perhaps “old” culture of academe.

Originality/value

Resistance to the ideal worker norm in academia has been largely overlooked in studies about faculty parents (particularly fathers) and work/family balance. We demonstrate how faculty members act as agents of social change in academia.

Purpose

Community colleges are an under-recognized but vital component of higher education. Public two-year colleges provide a foundation for baccalaureate degree attainment, educate a skilled math and science workforce, and support local economic development. Our research, which examines women STEM faculty at community colleges, highlights the role of gender in reproducing advantages and disadvantages within the academy.

Methodology

Data were collected by face-to-face interviews with 27 women faculty at nine community colleges in Ohio. We utilized semi-structured interviewing techniques to examine key dimensions such as decision-making leading to employment in two-year institutions, perceived advantages and disadvantages of such work, job satisfaction, and challenges to balancing career and family.

Findings

Results indicate considerable satisfaction among women faculty members, but contradict a popular stereotype that work at community colleges is easier for women with families. Despite relative parity in terms of occupational composition, pay, and tenure, community colleges are gendered in that they lack formal programs, institutionalized support, and leadership opportunities to support women.

Research limitations

Adjunct faculty play an important role in higher education but are underrepresented in our sample. Future research is needed to examine the unique situation of part-time faculty.

Implications

Community colleges are uniquely poised to contribute to improving gender equality for women in STEM. Understanding community colleges and the academic careers of women in STEM employed by these institutions is a vital step in our nation’s efforts to develop systemic approaches to increase representation and advancement of women in STEM careers.

Purpose

This chapter identifies the challenges that faculty with children experience as they engage in international research. We explore how these faculty members manage the competing demands of international research work and parenthood.

Methodology

Data includes qualitative interviews with 42 faculty members who are parents, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields from 23 Research 1 universities.

Findings

The globalizing nature of research poses insufficiently recognized tensions between international travel and caregiving. Faculty reported three main strategies that enable them to manage work-family conflicts when work takes them abroad. These include: (1) opting out of international research; (2) modifying international travel; and (3) merging international research with caregiving.

Research implications

Work-family conflicts identified at the national level are amplified for international research.

Research limitations

Interview data are self-reports of what faculty members recalled and elected to share; actual behaviors may differ somewhat.

Practical implications

This chapter provides insights that academic institutions might use to support faculty engaged in international research.

Social implications

A failure to understand and support the unique needs of parents in international research settings may compromise active parenthood for faculty, while reinscribing and reinforcing existing gendered disparities in academia. The internationalization of STEM fields, when coupled with a lack of institutional support for parents, presents a mechanism that contributes to the ongoing underrepresentation of women in science and engineering.

Originality

Although similar questions have been considered in national contexts, little research has explored work-family conflicts for parents in an international setting.

Purpose

This research investigates the impact of nonlinear career trajectories on female staff in the academy. It argues that assessment of “achievement relative to opportunity” is essential to the equitable positioning of women in the academy.

Methodology/approach

This qualitative study is based on extended structured interviews with 43 staff.

Findings

Men and women can experience career interruptions, deviations, and hijacks, but, in general, women experience more interruption, and the cumulative effect on their careers is greater.

Practical implications

The authors point to ways in which the assessment of achievement relative to opportunity can be implemented in universities to improve retention and career outcomes for female academic and professional staff.

Social implications

Embedding the principles of achievement relative to opportunity in evaluative decision making, supports people (particularly women) who have spent time away from the workforce in becoming more competitive in assessments of suitability for leadership and advancement. Changing traditional methods of evaluating merit has the potential to allow people from diverse backgrounds to be fairly evaluated, and shift the dominance of people who have experienced little or no career interruption.

Originality/value

The originality is the measurement of impact of nonlinear careers within the academy. The contribution is in the applicability of the findings and practical suggestions for implementation.

Purpose

Although there are more primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) than research-oriented institutions (ROIs) in the United States and more professors work at PUIs than ROIs, most research on gender inequality among faculty has focused on ROIs. Do patterns of women’s numeric scarcity, gender-hostile work climates, and difficulties with work-life balance found at ROIs hold true for PUIs? This chapter examines one PUI to address this question.

Methods

We analyze data from four sources: an archival database of all professors at the institution, interviews with full and associate professors, and two surveys.

Findings

Similar to ROIs, our study found women were less likely to achieve higher ranks, and take longer than men to do so. However, we find greater numbers of women and few gender differences in perception of climate, so numeric scarcity and gender-hostile climate cannot explain persistent lags in women’s advancement. Instead, we find women struggle with work-life balance more than men, especially in science disciplines. Thus, gender parity in advancement has yet to fully emerge, despite more women in the faculty and a more equitable climate than at ROIs.

Research implications

Differences between faculty cohorts are intensified at the PUI because of changes to the institution’s mission, but our research demonstrates that not all gendered patterns found at ROIs apply to PUIs.

Practical and social implications

PUIs that increasingly emphasize scholarly output should enact family-friendly policies to support all professors, including on-campus or subsidized childcare, flexible scheduling, family leave, and dual-career hiring policies.

Originality/value

This chapter demonstrates that there are important differences between ROIs and PUIs that must be taken into account if we are to understand and remedy gender inequality in academia.

Purpose

We examine chairs’ beliefs about the role of gender and gender inequality in their departments. Because work-family concerns have been central to explanations of gender inequality in the academy, we pay special attention to these issues.

Methodology/approach

We analyze interview data collected from 52 department chairs at one research-intensive, public university.

Findings

Although the chairs we interviewed were sympathetic and aware in many respects, their views on gender, work, and family were filtered through the lens of personal responsibility and choice, an outmoded view of work as separate and distinct from family life, and a notion of gender as a personal characteristic rather than an entrenched feature of academic work and careers.

Originality/value

Our focus on departmental leaders fills an important gap in the literature, which has focused more on the perspectives of faculty and less on those with the power to frame gender issues.

Purpose

Gender differences in professional networks are said to explain disparities in career success and satisfaction in academia – particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines – yet little empirical research examines men and women’s satisfaction with networks. This study investigated gender differences in networks and network satisfaction among STEM faculty, examining gender differences in network size and density and in satisfaction with networks.

Methods

A web-based survey was administered to full-time tenured and tenure-track STEM faculty members at a major research university. Participants (N = 141) were queried about their network ties within the home department, outside the department but within the home university, and beyond the home university.

Findings

Faculty networks tended to be gender homophilous, with men reporting more ties with men and women reporting more ties with women. Women reported having networks as large and supportive as men’s reported networks, yet women reported significantly less satisfaction with their networks than did men. Women in departments with a critical mass of women faculty (15% or more) reported greater satisfaction with opportunities to collaborate with departmental colleagues.

Limitations

This research was confined to a single university and did not focus on negative interactions in networks, which may affect network satisfaction.

Implications

These findings argue for increasing women’s representation in university departments to above 15% and providing assistance to women in STEM departments without critical mass to ensure that they have adequate opportunities to collaborate in research.

Purpose

This research explores whether gender affects faculty satisfaction with opportunity for advancement in rank at two elite liberal arts colleges in the United States.

Methodology

We analyze survey data from associate and full professors to identify predictors of satisfaction with advancement. Focus group and interview data supplement our interpretations of regression results.

Findings

The two colleges differ in the impact of gender, rank, perceptions of the full professor promotion process, and quality of department relationships on satisfaction with advancement. At one college, there is no gender difference, while at the other, women are less satisfied than men. The effect of gender at this college is fully mediated by department relationship quality.

Research limitations

This cross-sectional study was conducted at only two colleges. Interpretations of the quantitative results are inductively generated and not tested in the analysis.

Practical implications

We make recommendations to improve processes and pathways for promotion that recognize the role of department climates in fostering or hindering career progression. Gender may be less salient in contexts in which associate professors have positive department relationships and in which promotion criteria value their administrative service and other institutional contributions sufficiently.

Originality

Previous research about promotion to full professor has focused on research universities while we examine the issue at liberal arts colleges, institutions that emphasize undergraduate study.

Purpose

This study examines and describes the experiences and perceptions of women and men associate professors from various academic disciplines as they chart and navigate their academic career trajectories.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a case study approach, we interviewed 11 purposively selected mid-career faculty members and five department heads.

Findings

Through the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT), we identified issues of clarity, climate, self-efficacy, and gender disparity as major concerns for mid-career faculty.

Research limitations/implications

This research is limited to a research-intensive university in the southeastern United States. The small study population and unique context limit the generalizability of the study.

Practical implications

Findings of the study provide a lens for university and college administrators, human resources professionals, and other institutional leaders to view professional development programs for mid-career faculty members at their own institutions. The findings also suggest a need for improvements to current family-friendly policies to reduce gender bias and retain women faculty members.

Originality/value

This paper offers practical recommendations to higher education administrators and human resources professionals on how to positively cultivate a better work climate and culture for mid-career faculty members. It also offers suggestions on how to be sensitive to and improve gender equity among mid-career faculty in higher education.

Purpose

This chapter explores whether issues and policies for senior academic women scientists are similar or different from those of their junior counterparts.

Methodology

Both statistical comparisons and qualitative analyses of responses of 175 respondents, who were National Science Foundation (NSF) Professional Opportunities for Women in Research and Education (POWRE) awardees in 1997–2000, to a 2012 e-mail questionnaire provide the basis for the comparison.

Findings

Most respondents agree that the issues faced by junior and senior women differ significantly. Although considerable consensus appears to exist about issues that junior women face and institutional policies to help alleviate those issues, few respondents have ideas about how to improve the situation for senior STEM academic women scientists.

Practical and social implications

Just as a loss in the percentage of women in the STEM workforce occurs at each higher level on the career ladder, women in the academic STEM professoriate also decrease at higher ranks. Many educational institutions have adopted policies and practices such as parental leave and stop the tenure clock, heralded as significant for attracting and retaining women in academic science, particularly at the junior level. Recognizing the issues facing senior women scientists and addressing them with appropriate policies and practices decreases the risks of undercutting the productivity and professional contributions of these women at the peak of their career.

Purpose

Multiple factors contribute to the attrition of women from STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). A lack of recognition for scholarly contributions is one piece of the puzzle. Awards are crucial not only for recognizing achievement but also for making individuals feel that their contributions are valued. Additionally, awards for research are important for promotion to various levels within the academic hierarchy, including tenure and promotion. With a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) has been examining the ways in which women are recognized for their achievements by professional disciplinary societies.

Approach

Working with the leadership of scientific societies, we developed best practices to increase gender parity and the transparency of awards processes. These recommendations included using gender-neutral language for solicitations and letters of recommendation, increasing the nomination and selection pools, clearly defining and discussing the types of achievements being sought and evaluated, including women on nomination and selection committees (particularly as committee chairs), and educating the committees about implicit bias.

Results

AWIS partnered with 18 different societies and has seen an increase in the transparency of awards processes leading to more equitable recognition since the project’s inception in 2010.

Implications

Professional societies play critical roles in scientists’ professional development, and their awards programs make powerful statements about values. When awards show a gender gap, the implication is that men and women are valued differently by the society. Thus, leaders of disciplinary societies should work to ensure that their recognition processes do not disadvantage women.

Purpose

We discuss the implementation of workshops for faculty search committees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A central focus of the workshops is to introduce faculty to research on the influence of unconscious bias on the evaluation of job candidates and to recommend evidence-based strategies for minimizing this bias. The workshops aim to help universities achieve their goals of recruiting excellent and diverse faculty.

Methodology

With basic descriptive statistics and a simple logistic regression analysis, we utilize several datasets to examine participants’ responses to the workshop and assess changes in the percentage of women who receive offers and accept positions.

Findings

Faculty members are becoming aware of the role bias can play in evaluating faculty applicants and are learning strategies for minimizing bias. In departments where women are underrepresented, workshop participation is associated with a significant increase in the odds of making a job offer to a woman candidate, and with a non-significant increase in the odds of hiring a woman.

Limitations

This study is limited by our inability to assess the diversity of the applicant pools our faculty search committees recruit and by lack of control over the myriad other factors that influence hiring. Data are from a single institution and therefore these results may not generalize to other universities.

Originality/value

Educating faculty search committees about the role of unconscious bias and presenting them with evidence-based strategies for minimizing its influence promotes changes that contribute to increasing representation of women faculty.

Background

Women have conquered the universities but their way into top positions is still stopped by a class ceiling. Focusing appointment procedures for full professors the chapter examines why policies aiming at gendered practices have only shown moderate success.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis follows a praxeological approach and draws on material derived from case studies covering all 22 universities in Austria. The aim of these case studies was to analyze the implementation of a new legal framework for appointment procedures at Austrian universities.

Findings

In this chapter, the effects of specific measures to tackle gender bias in appointment procedures for full professors in the Austrian context are analyzed. It is evident that despite gender awareness and a comprehensive set of regulations, regularly traditional practices remain stable and unreflected with regard to an inherent gender bias. The analysis presented thus reveals the limitations of existing equality policies. We can assume that reflexivity is a precondition for a change of unreflected practices, but does not form a part of existing policies.

Practical implications

We conclude that policies aimed at changing gendered practices have to (1) built up gender awareness as well as gender competence and (2) encourage reflexivity as well as agency among all stakeholders involved in a practice. Although there are cases where reflexivity arises from an individual conviction with regard to equality, most stakeholders have to be convinced – or even forced – by a superior authority to change their practices. Such a change can be forced by legal obligation or set down as a clear requirement by university management. It becomes evident that any guideline or regulation addressing gendered practices have to be accompanied by features that create room for reflection and reflexivity.

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Purpose

The gap in gender equity is profoundly evident in academia, particularly in the area of positional and financial remuneration for women, and, although a global phenomena, it is particularly acute in South Africa.

Methodology

The case study was conducted through one-on-one interviews with fourteen academic and upper management staff members on the East London campus of the University of Fort Hare, South Africa. Participants represented men and women of varied ages, ethnicities, and positions within the University.

Findings

This research indicates that women find themselves discriminated by their maternal responsibilities, as well as complaints that their management styles are more emotionally subjective and less efficient. Some respondents find competition not camaraderie with other women also complicate the workplace, and others determine race and gender equally play significant roles in their promotability, research funding, and publication possibilities.

Research limitations

The case study was restricted to the academic and upper management staff from one selected university in the nation.

Practical implications

According to this research, women are less likely to be promoted to upper management or professorial positions and, if they are, find it quite arduous to be accepted within these roles, due in part to stereotypes which deem them less effective in upper level positions.

Social implications

Transformation in gender equity policy and practices is still necessary and women must pursue gender equality in every area of the institutional structures of academia.

Originality/value

No similar study has been conducted at South African universities.

Purpose

To implement and assess an intervention designed to promote gender equity and organizational change within STEM departments in two Colleges at a single Research High university. Department climate impacts the retention and success of women faculty.

Methodology/approach

A survey was administered both before and after the department intervention in order to capture departmental change on variables that measure a positive climate for female faculty.

Findings

Across all of the science and engineering departments, levels of Collective Efficacy toward Gender Equity significantly increased while levels of Conflict significantly decreased after the department facilitation. In the science departments, the level of Vicarious Experience of Gender Equity among faculty significantly increased while in the engineering departments levels of faculty Dependence significantly decreased. There was a statistically significant decrease in Optimism about Gender Equity among the science faculty.

Practical implications

Organizational change within universities has been documented as slow and labor intensive. Departmental climate, particularly interactions with colleagues, remains an area wherein women continue to feel excluded. The departmental intervention resulted in measurable improvements in key aspects of climate critical to women’s success (e.g., reductions in conflict and dependence; increases in collective efficacy) as well as more realistic view of the effort needed to attain gender equity (decrease in Optimism).

Purpose

Critical mass theory suggests that attaining a certain proportion of a minority group triggers transformation that improves conditions for minority group members. Using faculty gender composition as a continuous rather than categorical predictor, the present research discerns whether the proportion of women influences perceptions among STEM faculty.

Methodology

STEM faculty completed a survey examining perceptions of department climate for women (i.e., advancement and discrimination) and division of work time. The proportion of women in each department was calculated.

Findings

Using multilevel modeling, we found that women (vs. men) faculty perceive less departmental advancement of women, but that a greater proportion of women in a department is related to increased perceptions that the department advances women. We did not find differences in time male or female faculty reported spending on research, teaching, or service; however, as the proportion of women in a department increases, there is a decrease in the amount of time individual male and female faculty spent on research and an increase in time spent on service. Contrary to critical mass theory, we found a linear rather than quadratic effect of proportion of women on perceptions of department climate and division of work time.

Research limitations

These effects may not be attributable to gender proportion alone.

Practical implications

Given our finding of incremental effects of proportion of women, a critical mass is not necessary or sufficient for change. Underlying problems of discrimination and stereotyping need to be addressed while recognizing that each woman hired has a positive impact.

Content available
Purpose

This chapter examines if women in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are constrained in their leadership style and if the organizational culture makes them less valued in senior management teams. It then explores if the 7-S organizational framework has relevance to gender and leadership in HEIs.

The nature of authority within HEIs increases the complexity of leadership within an academic context. Leadership is often vested in a single person, and the positional power of Rectors/Vice-Chancellors (VCs) is based on authority, discipline knowledge, experience, and peer and professional recognition. The literature highlights that HEIs continue to be male dominated and that women are underrepresented in university leadership.

Methodology

A total of 44 interviews with female and male university senior managers in Australia and Portugal were conducted by the authors and then analyzed using thematic content analysis.

Results

This chapter analyzed the leadership styles of female and male leaders in HEI management teams in Australia and Portugal. It found that both women and men in Australian universities valued transformational leadership skills, whereas the male respondents in Portugal saw traditional management as more effective, even though female respondents considered women demonstrated transformational leadership. It also found that while women’s leadership is recognized in Australian universities, in Portugal men saw women’s leadership as problematic.

Originality/value of chapter

The findings suggest that there is more possibility for transformation in the academy if both men and women in HEI leadership value women’s leadership role.

Purpose

The intent of this chapter is to discuss women managers as change agents in higher education. It focuses women’s increased access to senior academic management positions in Swedish higher education and investigates to what extent this increase is accompanied by changes to a masculine management norm.

Methodology/approach

The chapter draws on a study that involved qualitative interviews with 22 women in senior management positions in 10 Swedish higher education institutions.

Findings

The analysis highlights how women managers become agents of change by challenging a masculine management norm in a work setting where men have dominated management positions. The women challenged the masculine management norm by their mere presence as women but also by adopting a different management style. It also illustrates the multiple aspects of women’s potential to take on the role as change agent.

Social implications

The results could benefit the development of gender equality strategies and the making of structural changes in organizations dominated by a masculine managerial norm.

Originality/value of the chapter

The study is based on unique empirical material. The interviewees are women pioneers in the Swedish Higher Education Sector, contributing to the demographic feminization of senior academic management positions and the organizational restructuring.

About the Authors

Pages 415-422
Content available
DOI
10.1108/S1529-2126201419
Publication date
2014-10-06
Book series
Advances in Gender Research
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78441-070-4
Book series ISSN
1529-2126