Gender & On-Campus Service

Many studies find the same pattern of women engaging in more campus service and teaching-mentoring related work than their male colleagues. Women of color face particular demands for unrewarded work as they are called upon to represent faculty of color and women. This is problematic as spending less time on research and more on service and teaching can negatively impact a faculty member’s career advancement. Our studies in this area try to understand what leads to women faculty engaging more in these activities - specifically how work is taken up, assigned, and rewarded unequally - and how organizations can be altered to provide a more equitable approach to the distribution of workload. 


Research Brief

O’Meara, K., Nyunt, G., & Lennartz, C. (2018). Research Brief #1: Gender and Workload. University of Maryland, College Park. View here.


Publications & Presentations

Needed: Allies for Equitable Faculty Workloads

Inside Higher Education

See the op ed here

Undoing Disparities: Multi-institution Study Tests Ways to Improve Faculty-Workload Equity

Maryland Today, March 14, 2019

This UMD-led study shows how academic departments at universities nationwide can take action to lessen workload inequities that often saddle women and underrepresented minority faculty with extra mentoring, advising and campus service work. The study is available here.

New Video Shares Research on Workload Equity

See the video on making faculty workload equitable here

How to Make Faculty Service Demands More Equitable

Inside Higher Education

Undoing the Can of Worms - Some faculty members do more than their fair share of department service, institutional housekeeping and student mentoring, writes KerryAnn O’Meara, who provides guidance for how to make such demands more equitable. Op Ed piece available here

The Hallway Ask: Ensuring Equity in Service Work

Inside Higher Education

The Hallway Ask - It tells us a lot about how we -- often unfairly -- assign responsibility for service work. Op Ed piece by KerryAnn O'Meara available here

Asked more often: Gender differences in faculty workload in research universities and the work interactions that shape them.

American Educational Research Journal, 54(6), 1154-1186.

Guided by research on gendered organizations and faculty careers, we examined gender differences in how research university faculty spend their work time. We used time-diary methods to understand faculty work activities at a micro level of detail, as recorded by faculty themselves over four weeks. We also explored workplace interactions that shape faculty workload. Similar to past studies we found women faculty spending more time on campus service, student advising, and teaching related activities and male faculty spending more time on research. We also found women receiving more new work requests than men and men and women receiving different kinds of work requests. We consider implications for future research and the career advancement of women faculty in research universities.

AWIS Brief

Constrained Choices: A View of Campus Service Inequality from Annual Faculty Reports.

Journal of Higher Education. 1-29.

Time is a valuable resource in academic careers. Empirical evidence suggests women faculty spend more time in campus service than men. Yet some studies show no difference when relevant variables are included. The primary source of data for most workload studies is cross-sectional surveys that have several weaknesses. This study investigated campus service inequality and factors that predict it at 1 research university using a novel and more comprehensive source of data - annual faculty reports. The investigation was guided by Kanter’s work on the role of power and representation and Lewis and Simpson’s rereading of Kanter’s work to focus on gender, power, and representation. The authors examined 1,146records of faculty campus service during 2 years. In both years, women faculty reported more total campus service than men while controlling for race, rank, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and the critical mass of women in a department. When considering levels of service, women reported higher numbers of service activities at the department and university levels. Women in male-dominated fields tended to have service workloads more like their peers and less like women in non-STEM fields. The article concludes with considerations regarding implications for organizing practices that maintain inequity between men and women in campus service.


Whose problem is it? Gender differences in faculty thinking about campus service.

Teachers College Record. 118, 080306. 1-38.

Background/Context: Empirical evidence suggests women faculty spend more time in campus service than men, which perpetuates inequality between men and women because research is valued more than service in academic reward systems, especially at research universities. Purpose/Focus of Study: In this study I apply insights from research on gender inequality to examine whether women and men faculty at a research university were thinking about their campus service differently. I add to the literature by (1) making faculty thinking about campus service visible, (2) examining how this thinking is constrained by gender, and the gendered nature of organizations, and (3) revealing how individualistic and cosmopolitan orientations, and communal and local orientations appear together in faculty thinking about campus service. Research Design: My research assistants and I conducted 60–75 minute-long, semi-structured interviews with 88 faculty including 34 men and 54 women on their work environment experiences. Interview questions focused on choices that faculty had made to emphasize different kinds of work (teaching, research, service), balance work priorities, and succeed. Findings/Results: Overall, more women framed campus service in communal terms and expressed local orientations toward campus service; more men positioned service as a campus problem, and noted their own interests to avoid or minimize involvement in campus service so as not to hurt their career. In a smaller group of cases, (e.g., four men and five women) the faculty member expressed the dominant pattern for the other gender; however, even in these cases participants provided examples of the dominant pattern for their gender as well. In all cases, women and men were influenced by gendered ways of thinking about work, and gendered organizational practices that permeated their socialization and work environments. Conclusions/Recommendations: Findings suggest that interventions are needed to affect thinking about campus service within university environments, as thinking shapes gendered divisions of labor. Sharing campus service data transparently, developing department consensus about appropriate levels of service contributions, and developing a sense of collective ownership for academic programs are examples of organizing practices that could generate change toward more gender neutral divisions of labor. Addressing the complex issue of inequality in campus service is not only about counting the numbers of service activities, although this is important. It is also critical to understand how faculty may be approaching the issue, the forces shaping their thinking, and the consequences of their thinking for individual careers and the future of the academic community.


To serve or not to serve.

Nature, 523, 627-629.

In this article on women scientists and committee service work, KerryAnn O'Meara and UMD ADVANCE are highlighted on page 628 for research into annual faculty reports on the average number of faculty campus service activities by rank and college. This information is published on the ADVANCE Dashboard, contributing to transparency of faculty campus service work. Read the full article here.


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