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About the Project

How university faculty spend their time, and whether they feel their workload is fair compared to their colleagues, shapes faculty retention, productivity, advancement and satisfaction. In some cases, faculty actually do more than their fair share of the department’s workload. In other cases, faculty just think they are engaged in more work because colleagues’ workload is not transparent. Research shows that women and underrepresented minority faculty engage in disproportionate amounts of teaching, mentoring, and service work, relative to peers and controlling for institutional type, discipline and rank. Unfortunately, more work has been done diagnosing the problem, than designing and testing strategies to mitigate and prevent equity issues in how faculty work is taken up, assigned, and rewarded.

The Faculty Workload and Rewards Project is an action research project for academic departments, funded by the National Science Foundation (ADVANCE-IHE PLAN: 1463898). The goal of the project is to improve organizational policies and practices that shape equity in workload for all faculty, including women and underrepresented minority faculty. Participating departments take part in a pre- and post-test survey, four project activities, and craft equity minded department policies and practices to implement at the conclusion of the project.

A Column at Symons Hall  
Talbot Hall


Key Findings

  • Department work practices (e.g., sharing of data, rotations of time intensive roles, credit systems) that support equity are significant, positive predictors of workload satisfaction and perception of fairness.
  • Department conditions that support equity (e.g., transparency, clarify, flexibility) are significant, positive predictors of faculty satisfaction with workload and perception of workload fairness.

Since these factors are associated with faculty reporting equitable faculty workloads, we work with departments to create department conditions that support equity (e.g. add transparency, clarity, flexibility, accountability), and department work practices to shape equity (e.g. dashboards, performance benchmarks, credit systems, rotations). To read more about our key findings, please refer to articles in PLOS One and Inside Higher Ed. Also see the article listed below for an additional summary.

Samoray, C. (2019, March 14). Undoing Disparities: Multi-institution Study Tests Ways to Improve Faculty-Workload Equity. Maryland Today.