Study Finds That Black Women Faculty Perceive Unfairness in Workloads and Recognition

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.


Comments (5)

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  1. Ewart Archer says:

    Sociologists report that most unattractive people underestimate just how unattractive they are.

    The same problem may afflict underperforming female faculty, who perhaps perceive unfairness when there is none.

    • Retired faculty says:

      I look back at my time at Mnscu and there were so many microaggressions in the 20 years I worked there… I look at my journal and was wondering how I got through… I would have stayed longer but nothing has changed!

    • Dr. Carlos Minor says:

      The same problem may afflict underperforming female faculty, who perhaps perceive unfairness when there is none.

      Loud, wrong and unsubstantiated as normal.

      I was the only Black faculty member in my department when I taught at a PWI. As a first year professor I was assigned EIGHT classes to a White faculty member’s ZERO. I was assigned a mentor housed on an extension campus seventy five mile away who did nothing. I had my rights of Free Speech and Academic Freedom flagrantly flouted. In short, Black faculty are often tolerated not wanted and their work environment is made hostile in the hope that they will quit.

      • Michael says:

        Wow. How in the world could any so-called department chair ASSIGN any 1st year professor 8 classes, with literally no support, and then expect for you to conduct any substantive research along with serving on any departmental or university-wide committees? In my view, this is nothing more than a higher education recipe for failure. For the record, the Cognitive Dissonance and self-hating Caribbean ‘ewart’ (lower case ‘e’ intentional) is and will always be a Defender of White supremacy in word and deed.

  2. Ewart Archer says:

    I’m sorry to hear of your disappointing experience.

    However, you are quick to generalize from your individual case to “Black faculty.” ALL Black faculty? You should know better.

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