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Op/ed: It’s Time to Reconsider What’s ‘Meaningful’ in Faculty Workloads

There’s Plenty of Diversity Work to Go Around—the First Step Is Valuing It More, Education Researchers Say

By Joya Misra, Dawn Culpepper and KerryAnn O’Meara

female professor of color teaches class

One way to make sure faculty workloads are fairer for women faculty of color is to place a higher value on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice work at universities nationwide, University of Maryland researchers write in a new essay.

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Make diversity, equity, inclusion and justice work a collective responsibility across the faculty. Realize that these efforts have inherent value in education, just as publishing and securing grants do. These are among the suggestions for ensuring workload and rewards systems equitably recognize the efforts of women faculty of color, two University of Maryland researchers and a colleague argue in a new essay.

Writing in Inside Higher Ed, Dawn Culpepper, a research assistant professor and associate director of the UMD ADVANCE program, higher education Professor KerryAnn O’Meara and sociology and public policy Professor Joya Misra of the University of Massachusetts Amherst call on academia to create fair systems to ensure all faculty have an equally chance to “do the work”—both diversity-related and in their fields of study.

Research, including our own work funded by the National Science Foundation, shows that faculty workloads often differ by race and gender in ways that particularly disadvantage women of color. Those workload imbalances matter for faculty diversity, inclusion and retention. Faculty members facing workload inequities report lower satisfaction, less engagement and increased burnout. Moreover, when the efforts of faculty are not credited in tenure and promotion criteria, it encourages those faculty members to leave, reducing retention.

For example, in a recent study, our research team found women of color were the least likely to say that the work important to them was valued in their department’s credit system. Often, this devalued work was aimed at supporting students of color or creating more equitable programs or universities.

Read the rest in Inside Higher Ed.



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