Peer Networks

Peer networks or faculty learning communities have the potential to foster professional interactions that are liberatory; counter some of the negative experiences that women, underrepresented minority, and professional track faculty face in their home departments; and thus positively influence retention, advancement, and/or professional growth. Participating in peer networks can foster faculty members' agency for career advancement; challenge gendered, racist, or rankist organizational structures; and help faculty navigate such constraining environments. The ADVANCE program has designed and led faculty peer networks for eight years and found participation has a positive impact on faculty retention, advancement, and satisfaction.



Earning Professional Legitimacy: Challenges Faced by Women, Under-Represented Minority and Non-Tenure Track Faculty.

Teachers College Record.

Meeting to transgress: The role of faculty learning communities in shaping more inclusive organizational cultures.

Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion: An International Journal

Invisible but essential: The role of professional networks in promoting faculty agency in career advancement.

Innovative Higher Education, 40(2). 1-13.

The benefits of professional networks are largely invisible to the people embedded in them (O’Reilly 1991), yet professional networks may provide key benefits for faculty careers. The purpose of the study reported here was to explore the role of professional networks in faculty agency in career advancement, specifically focusing on the overall relationship between the social capital gained from networks and faculty agency in career advancement. Findings suggest that off-campus networks are particularly important for faculty agency but that the benefits of networks may take time to develop.

Engendering faculty professional growth.

Change. 42(6), 44-51.

This article, developed for administrators, presents a holistic framework for faculty development that promotes professional growth while remaining mindful of the constraints facing institutions. We define professional growth as change that allows professionals to bring new and diverse knowledge, skills, values, and professional orientation to their work. We have identified four key aspects of faculty professional growth: learning, agency, professional relationships, and commitments. These four aspects, though presented separately, are synergistic and mutually reinforcing.


Assuming agency: The power of strategy and networks in faculty professional lives.

Liberal Education, 97(3/4), 54-59.

Case-study data of hundreds of faculty members in various institutional types and career stages reveal that faculty can assume agency in their professional lives—and, thereby, improve their well-being and the quality of their work environment—through strategic career management efforts and the development of relationships and networks. This article, crafted for administrators, considers how to enhance faculty networks and agency though individual and organizational efforts.

Enabling Possibility: Women Associate Professors' Sense of Agency in Career Advancement,

Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 7(1), 58-76.

In this multi-method, qualitative study we examined associate women professors’ sense of agency in career advancement from the rank of associate to full. Defining agency as strategic perspectives or actions toward goals that matter to the professor, we explore the perceptions of what helps and/or hinders a sense of agency in career advancement. Our participants consisted of 16 women associate professors at a major research university who participated in an institutional intervention program designed to enhance sense of agency in career advancement, and a subset of 12 attendees who also participated in a follow-up focus group 6 months later. Participants commonly noted that the influences of workload alignment, interactions with on-campus colleagues, and sense of fit between personal values and institutional promotion criteria constrained their sense of agency in career advancement, while the institutional intervention, self-selected professional networks, and perceived abilities fostered their sense of agency in career advancement. We conclude with individual and institutional level recommendations for policies and practices aimed at enhancing sense of agency perspectives and actions in career development in hopes of better retaining, promoting, and supporting women faculty.

A Career with a View: Agentic Perspectives of Women Faculty.

Journal of Higher Education. 86 (3) 331-359.

This study contributes to the literature by showing how tenured women faculty craft and leverage agentic perspectives as navigational tools amid inequitable, gendered dynamics. Drawing on interviews with associate and full professors in one research university, the author highlights the agentic perspectives, often inscribed in inner conversations, that women faculty created while embedded in gendered organizational contexts. The role of  ADVANCE networks in reducing isolation and shifting thinking toward collective responses to gendered organizational practices, is also discussed.

Faculty Peer Networks: Role and Relevance in Advancing Agency and Gender Equity. Gender and Education.

Gender and education. 27(3), 338-358

Organisational efforts to alter gender asymmetries are relatively rare, yet they are taking place in a number of universities. In the USA, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, ADVANCE programmes implement a number of interventions to improve the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women faculty. This study focused on one common intervention, faculty peer networks, and the role they play in gender equity reform. Longitudinal and cross-sectional qualitative data indicate that such peer networks function as catalysts for women’s career agency, and challenge gendered organisational practices. Two key features of the peer networks, their structure and internal dynamics, facilitate these outcomes. At the same time, peer networks are limited by design in promoting structural change and must be implemented in concert with other forms of policy and structural change to be effective mechanisms for gender equity reform.

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