Service contributions of faculty

Mar 22 2016 Published by under Academics, Underrepresented Groups

Just remember this graph when you are being told about the service requirements of your job and how "good it will look to the P&T committee" if you say yes to the next demand on your time.

In fact, you know what? Just go ahead and print this out and slip it under your Chair's door.

via:
Diversity and the Ivory Ceiling by
Joya Misra and Jennifer Lundquist at Inside Higher Ed.

51 responses so far

  • boehninglab says:

    Of note it appears these are Associate Professors.

  • dsks says:

    To paraphrase Dylan Moran,
    "It's not easy being a white man, you know. I had to get dressed today. And there are other pressures."

  • qaz says:

    A fascinating but unsurprising graph. We all know why this graph looks like this. It is because of supply and demand. There are too few non-white-male professors and all funding agencies and other stakeholders demand diversity on committees. There are two solutions to this graph. Either

    1. Demand that committees reflect the overall proportion of faculty in the institution.

    2. Find a way to get a more diverse distribution of faculty at the professorial level.

    An interesting co-graph, however, would be to find the distributions of contributors to symposia and seminars, at which (supposedly) funding agencies are also demanding diversity. (We all know what that graph would look like as well.)

  • Microscientist says:

    I've been pondering dropping two of my current service obligations, since they have become annoying and I now have tenure. Thanks for cementing in my head that I should!

  • dr24hours says:

    There is a natural tension between wanting diverse representation on committees and wanting not to overburden faculty of color, and female faculty. I have it in my own institution: the ethics committee on which I serve was all white. We were talking about disparities in care, and I said that we needed a more diverse committee.

    Am I contributing to the overburdening of our minority faculty? Maybe. Should I stand by and contribute to decisions about care disparities being made without the input of persons of color? I think not. What to do? I don't know the best way.

    I am at least marginally curious about the data source in the article. It is from one university, and they don't say how it is calculated. Self report feels most likely, but perhaps they were more rigorous. I'd like to see how these data generalize. They probably would be borne out as similar broadly, but I'd like to see the math.

  • Morgan Price says:

    I'm a bit confused about the graph -- does mentoring include advising people in your own research group? (The survey was done at a research university.)

  • GM says:

    This is potentially highly misleading.

    What exactly counts as "service" here?

    If it is only things that are absolutely necessary and someone has to do them, then there might be a point.

    But, if "service" also includes all the unnecessary activities that exist solely to show that something is done about racial and gender "inequality" in academia, then you do not have a point.

    Because of course those will be disproportionately carried out by faculty of color and women. Not only that, they are often initiated by them. And if they were to involve white male faculty, I guess there would be protests, because how could a white male faculty "understand" the "unique perspective" of students and trainees that are not white and male.

    This is precisely the effect I was talking about in a recent thread, where I noted that in my department we have a weekly "women in science" club, the primary effects of which are to create a intellectual circlejerk of people telling each other how oppressed they are while not doing the very thing that will make them as successful as the white males "oppressing" them - research.

    The same might be going on here: the more committees and initiatives there are to address the "special needs" of women and people of color in academia, the less time faculty in those groups will have to do research.

    So I would need to see a detailed breakdown on what exactly kind of "service" went into those charts before I can interpret them.

  • drugmonkey says:

    So I would need to see a detailed breakdown on what exactly kind of "service" went into those charts before I can interpret them.

    Of course you would.

  • Zuska says:

    There is no solution to "this problem" because "this problem" cannot be uncoupled from the need for institutional transformation writ large.
    Individual Persons Of Diversity should pursue a selfish strategy of jealousy guarding time, doing whatever it takes to get tenure, and letting themselves do a little stuff to keep their souls alive.
    Persons Charged With Diversifying The Committee, Program, Department, Entire Faculty, And/Or The University should recognize that theirs is a hard doom and a hopeless errand, nevertheless they must seek out best practices and strategic alliances.
    Persons Of (Whatever) Privelege should endeavor to deploy it so as to undermine its continuance whenever possible.
    These recommendations are likely not mutually compatible at all times.

  • Zuska says:

    Also: I think maybe I was on a committee with GM when I was trying to Diversify The Engineers, back in the day. All the talking points sound familiar.

  • GM says:

    All the talking points sound familiar.

    If you have a substantial argument to present, please do it.

    The cheap rhetorical tactics you should keep to yourself.

  • GM says:

    There is no solution to "this problem" because "this problem" cannot be uncoupled from the need for institutional transformation writ large.

    I am curious what exactly would the "institutional transformation" involve?

    If you are saying that we need an "institutional transformation" to solve the "diversity" problem, this implies that currently there are "institutional" factors that create the problem.

    So I am curious what exactly is on the books as rules and regulations that discriminates "persons of diversity" and what should be added to them to fix that?

    If you cannot give me any relevant examples, you should just shut up and go hug your teddy bear in whatever safe space is nearest to you.

  • drugmonkey says:

    The cheap rhetorical tactics you should keep to yourself

    It will come to you in a minute, lab partner.

  • SidVic says:

    Coincidence- I just wrote a letter for a service award for a woman-of color colleague. I was shocked when i examined the extent of her service. I explicitly made the case that this was the case because she is one of our few female senior faculty and therefore gets tapped for committees disproportionately where diversity is desirable.
    My advice concerning service (take it for what it is worth), show up but don't do too good a job or you will be stuck with more of it... Also, try to identify low-onerous (it's like porn you know it when you see it) service and volunteer for it. Avoid admissions and curriculum like the plague.

  • Ola says:

    Key question here is methodology. How were the data were collected? If it was self-reporting, then just as with food-intake surveys, the "data" need to be taken with a pinch of salt. It's notable that the original article on InsideHigherEd has only a vague hat-tip to the entire process - the phrase "On our campus we found..." at the beginning of the paragraph above the chart shown here by DM. As scientists, we may want to think about the ways in which the make up of the sub-group surveyed here may have introduced bias into the results?

    It appears the data may have come from the "UMass Work_Life Study" detailed here: http://people.umass.edu/misra/Joya_Misra/work-life.html

    The study has a number of shortcomings:
    - The data were collected in 2008-9. Outdated much?
    - No numbers on whether response rates were different among survey groups, but generally noted in the powerpoint slides on the study website that survey responses and focus groups had more women.
    - Slide #6 in the deck indicates that for this cohort, total work hours (i.e. adding research onto the pie) were identical between groups.
    - The Ns for some of the gender-split groups are quite small (30-50), so further breaking down by race would result in very small Ns indeed.
    - According to the methods appendix linked at the above site, a grand 6% of the respondents were affiliated with the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, the most sciencey sounding name among the various divisions at UMass Amherst.

    So yeah count be among the skeptical, regarding the idea that these data have anything at all to do with institutional service by biomedical scientists in 2016. It's pretty crazy to think of everyone (including the editors of InsideHigherEd) getting their knickers in a twist about these data, without bothering to find out about their provenance. The fact that the authors of the piece were allowed to used descriptive phrases such as "substantially more than" speaks volumes about editorial policy.

  • GM says:

    I explicitly made the case that this was the case because she is one of our few female senior faculty and therefore gets tapped for committees disproportionately where diversity is desirable.

    Well, this is exactly the core of the problem here -- it is not that "people of diversity" are actively discriminated, it is that they are seen as "people of diversity" rather than just people.

    But the more we talk about "people of diversity", the more we ensure that this will never change.

  • The Other Dave says:

    Ok, so men are lazy, and white men are laziest.

    It's not our fault. Society let us become this way.

  • Joe says:

    When my wife was an assistant professor, the number of committees she was on was ridiculous. She was in a department that was 90% male faculty. However, the graduate students were close to 50% female, and many women grad students wanted to have a woman faculty member on their thesis committees. She said yes way too many times. I have recently considered setting a maximum number of student committees to be on. I think that would be a good idea for women faculty members as well.

  • GM says:

    However, the graduate students were close to 50% female, and many women grad students wanted to have a woman faculty member on their thesis committees.

    So who is responsible in this situation for your wife's workload?

    The men or the women?

  • The Other Dave says:

    I wrote: "Ok, so men are lazy, and white men are laziest. It's not our fault. Society let us become this way."

    But that wasn't entirely a joke!

    My university (like many) encourages minority representation on committees. Minority representation is mandatory for certain types of committees (faculty search committees, for example).

    In my department, this means is that the same two hispanic women get asked to serve on almost every committee. It's either them or white women. No one wants us white guys.

  • Zuska says:

    Well if that survey wasn't conducted last week it's obviously outdated.
    Also, there is no discrimination, and if there is, it is your fault. I don't see any institutional issues and you can't make me, so there aren't any.

  • Zuska says:

    GM was DEFINITELY on that committee...on ALL the committees...

  • Joe says:

    @GM "So who is responsible in this situation for your wife's workload?
    The men or the women?"

    I was chiming in to make the point that when women are in the minority on the faculty, they do indeed get asked to do more committee work. Who is responsible in this situation? I already said my wife said yes to too many committees, but it is not advisable to say no often when you are an asst prof. Maybe the better answer to the "Who is responsible in this situation?" question is: the people who hired those faculty members and chose 90% men.

  • SidVic says:

    GM- I'm on your side here. Boohoo, we are excluded from the decision-making process. Boohoo- the service we are stuck with is onerous? Unintended consequences? I will state at the personal level of colleague, i set that aside quickly, and try to get her the award. In this case she is top-notch trooper so...

    I do find the comments about white men and men being lazy tiresome. Are not masculine virtues appreciated at all? I watch TV and read comments on blogs and Dad/men is always portrayed as a lazy buffoon. Look: i know the 50s were a caricature, but seriously, can not we consider that the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.

  • The Other Dave says:

    SidVic: I am lazy and proud of it. I am proud of it because it means that my success is entirely due to raw talent. Dare not imagine what I could do if I decided to quit screwing around so much...

  • SidVic says:

    That's a good one dave- i may steal it.

  • The Other Dave says:

    Go ahead, SidVic. I'm too lazy to do anything about it.

  • GM says:

    I was chiming in to make the point that when women are in the minority on the faculty, they do indeed get asked to do more committee work. Who is responsible in this situation?

    OK, how many times do I have to repeat it?

    If you keep insisting you are a special group that needs more representation, this will keep happening. If instead we stop dividing people into groups based on race and gender, then there is no such problem.

    It's very simple.

    I posted my original comment as a question, as in "Are we really sure women and people of color are stuck with service work because the white male faculty are offloading it onto them?", which is what the original interpretation was. Because the data certainly did not warrant such an interpretation as it did not control for numerous other variables.

    Of course, this is no substitute for real data with large sample sizes, but basically every comment relating anecdotal experience that addressed the issue after that has confirmed my suspicion -- "people of diversity" are stuck with more such work precisely as a result of the special treatment that "people of diversity" have demanded and continued to demand, and have as a result received.

  • GM says:

    Also, I asked Zuska to provide examples of institutional factors that discriminate against "people of diversity" that will back up her demands for "institutional changes".

    Everyone can see what the response was for themselves.

  • GM says:

    Are not masculine virtues appreciated at all? I watch TV and read comments on blogs and Dad/men is always portrayed as a lazy buffoon.

    Ah, but haven't you heard? One cannot be sexist towards men by definition because sexism is prejudice plus power.

  • Bagger Vance says:

    Glad to see many scientists actually looking critically at a graph, asking for methods and sources. In fact I've come to be more curious about things that seem like the result of confirmation bias: "Oh, did you expect white men to be lazy? How surprising, so did we!"

    "GM was DEFINITELY on that committee...on ALL the committees..."

    Time to retire then, that chip on your shoulder getting too big to carry to work each day.

  • becca says:

    Easy solution. Ban publishing/grant obtaining history in tenure considerations, only consider service.

    The *reason* service is undervalued is because women do it. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/upshot/as-women-take-over-a-male-dominated-field-the-pay-drops.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1

    And because it's too easy....
    "I watch TV and read comments on blogs and Dad/men is always portrayed as a lazy buffoon."
    You have time to watch TV and read comments on blogs? Must be nice.

  • GM says:

    Ban publishing/grant obtaining history in tenure considerations, only consider service.

    Well, there was this case recently in which a Native American professor sued because she was denied tenure (because she had not published anything) claiming that because peer review was an institution of white male oppression, it was not compatible with her unique point of view and she did not have to conform to the traditional publishing system.

    Most people who read that thought it was from The Onion. But it wasn't.

    How close do you want to get to that kind of thinking?

  • DJMH says:

    No one (aside from tongue-in-cheek) said white men are lazy. Including DM. The point was, if you are female and/or minority, you should think of this chart next time you are asked to be on a committee, because time spent on service is time not spent on research.

  • qaz says:

    @becca - service has never been valued.

    How many nobel prizes or national academy memberships have been given for service?

    It is very clear that the combination of low representation of diverse faculty and increased diversity requirements on committees produces this graph. There is no need to hypothesize nefarious intentions (except those that keep the faculty less diverse).

  • Ola says:

    I'll say it again because the message seems to have gotten lost in my (long) previous comment...

    SELF REPORTING IS NOT A GOOD DATA COLLECTION METHOD

    Asking a bunch of people to complete a survey, then presenting the results without correcting for the characteristics of the type of people who self-select to respond to surveys on specific topics, is not science.

  • gmp says:

    It is very clear that the combination of low representation of diverse faculty and increased diversity requirements on committees produces this graph.

    This is part of it. Another big part is that women are socialized to be helpful and communal, are justly worried that it will be taken against them when they are not.

    There are several men in my department who do so little service that it's shameful, because they don't give a shit. You ask them for anything, and they say 'no' because it doesn't advance their own agenda. Not all men are like that, but there are zero women who simply blanket say no to anything that does not specifically propel them. I have a list of all committee assignments among my colleagues, and all the women who make <20% of faculty each have more service than average, and most by a factor of 2 or 3 more than the average. There are several men who have the very minimum of required service, and they are the prima donnas whose time is "too valuable" for that stuff.

    The way to combat it is for the chair to intervene and to protect the people (men and women) who do significantly more than average. It's not fair to expect "Well, if she didn't want to be on this cte, she should have said no," because expectations of women and men are different, and men can get away with being much more selfish without being penalized as unlikable, not a good department citizen, etc. Junior women serve more because they are rightly worried that people will take it against them if they don't.

  • […] was a discussion on DM’s blog on how women, and especially women of color, do much more service than men […]

  • qaz says:

    @gmp - I don't think there's extra variance that has to be explained.

    1. Your hypothesis does not explain why there is an additional factor for "of color", which clearly interacts linearly with the factor of "is female", unless you want to also claim that people "of color" are more socialized and less willing to say no.

    2. In my department and in the other departments that I've seen close-up enough to know details, the chair has been extremely protective of women's time, particularly junior women's time. The problem is that it is actually very important for many committees to have diverse memberships (for example, the admissions committee).

    3. Furthermore, in my experience, women are not more likely to say OK to committees than men. In fact, if anything, they are less likely to say OK because they are more likely to be "already full with service". Junior men are also justly worried that they will piss off their chair or other powerful administrator.

    4. What I see is that women are more likely to be called upon for service because they are singled out as providing necessary diversity. (Is it going to be a problem if the tenure committee is all white males? What's going to happen if someone diverse is [assume rightly] denied tenure? OR We need to make sure that the admissions committee has people that the potential candidates can relate to or we won't be able to attract enough students and we'll lose all our training grant funding.)

    5. If there is enough empirical data to explain an effect based on the assumption that people are individuals and have their own individual characteristics (some men say yes to too much service, some women don't do enough), then I don't think it necessary, useful, or helpful to stereotype people with psychobabble BS about gender stereotypes. Moreover, your theory would predict that service would be highly correlated to cultures which are more socialized. But that doesn't seem to be the case.

    It is important to get the reasons for this correct. Saying that the problem is about female "socialization" implies we need to change how females are socialized. If the problem instead is that we have a mismatch between diversity requirements and the number of faculty available, then we need to either drop diversity requirements (not recommended) or increase the number of diverse faculty available (recommended).

  • gmp says:

    qaz, the diversity bit is true, but is just a small part of the picture. Both men and women expect women to be helpful and communal (that's socialization), women are considered unlikable (with professional penalties that that entails) when they exhibit traditionally male behavior such as aggression and being self centered. You don't have to believe me, but there is a wealth of research on the so-called double bind. (Thank you for accusing me of phychobabble, btw.)
    What happens with faculty of color issue is another manifestation of how being from an underrepresented minority has second and higher order effects (beyond the diversification of ctes): underrepresented junior folks don't have appropriate mentoring and support from senior faculty, so they don't have invested heavy-hitters who will shield them from crap work and advise them on how much service is really enough and deflect claims of "not a good department citizen" when someone brings up the less-than-mountains of service in faculty meetings.
    Finally, please step back to understand the following: I am a woman in a male dominated field and I am not puzzled by the the data at all. I guarantee that none of my female colleagues in my college would be puzzled either. Other female commenters are not surprised either; Zuska appears exasperated that she has to argue these points for the 1e6-th time.
    Many men in the thread are incredulous of the data and discussing this issue in purely abstract terms, because they have the benefit of not having experienced the issue first hand. (I will also note that comments are overwhelmingly from dudes here, because I am guessing many female readers are too exasperated to engage.) The data reflect reality, and the reality sucks; women uniformly serve more, and much more, than men on average. The reasons have to be with people asking them more because of diversity but also because it's thankless work and because women are expected to be helpful and are the go-to helpers whenever there is thankless shit to be done; when they don't do it, they are penalized as unlikable/cold/bitches/shrews and it's truly damaging to careers of junior women (associate prof is relatively junior). If you want to help your female colleagues, especially junior ones, then please start from those two premises (the data is true and in sucks) and go from there; please don't insult us by arguing that this shit is in fact not true, that's called gaslighting.

  • qaz says:

    I never doubted the data. In fact, I defended the data from the first point. (As you can see from this conversation sequence, I was the third comment and called the data "unsurprising.")

    But I stand by my statement that in order to repair this, we need to identify the *correct* reasons for the problem. And whether or not the double-bind problem exists (or that it particularly exists for women over other groups), it is not a necessary explanation for this phenomenon, and if it is not causing this phenomenon (which I do not think it is), then it is not helpful to insist on it as an explanation.

    Where I am, this issue - ensuring that the junior faculty have appropriate protected time - is discussed regularly. The problem of protected time comes up more for women than for men, but it does come up for both, and the reason that it comes up more for women than for men is ENTIRELY because there are fewer women who are needed on more committees.

    Most importantly, however, I would like to find a way to fix the problem without trying to demand that people have to change their character. (In particular, I do not want to have to ask women to behave differently in order to achieve things.) We need to construct our social institutions so that all people (however they have been socialized) can succeed by being themselves.

    In terms of the reality of the double bind / double standard, yes this changes from men to women, but it also changes across cultures (such as south US to north US, east coast US to west coast US , and midwest to coastal, as well as ethnic and cultural heritages). I would like to find a way to solve these problems without forcing people to change their styles. Every person is different, and everyone has a different style, and some are over-helpful and others are under-helpful. I would like to find a way to make the sociological institutions that we build able to accommodate all of that diversity without removing it.

    The only real solution is to going to be to get more diversity in the faculty.

  • The Other Dave says:

    Oh, qaz, you lovable academic. I love your comments, but I am not sure that I want you on any committees. I like how you eschew the obvious (albeit imperfect) solution -- reduce the service workload of women & minorities -- in favor of waiting for some long term thing that no one can argue against, but which will not happen any time soon.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I like how you eschew the obvious (albeit imperfect) solution -- reduce the service workload of women & minorities -- in favor of waiting for some long term thing that no one can argue against, but which will not happen any time soon.

    Maybe qaz is preparing to seek a job at NIH......

  • qaz says:

    I try my hardest (as do my immediate colleagues - I can't speak for anyone else) to spread the workload evenly and to make sure that women and minorities in our academic units are not asked to do more service than anyone else. The problem is that we get complaints in our training grant reviews that there are not enough women and minorities on our committees. We almost lost our last very large and critical-to-our-program training grant because there were "too few women in committee and leadership positions".

    My point is that this problem is a straightforward consequences of (1) too few women and minorities in academia and (2) NIH demanding that we have diverse representation on our committees.

    You tell me what we are supposed to do.

  • Insect Biologist says:

    gmp - thank you for doing a great job of describing a real problem!

    This is key: "women are expected to be helpful ...; when they don't do it, they are penalized as unlikable/cold/bitches/shrews and it's truly damaging to careers of junior women"

    At least in the life sciences, I think that things are getting better. But, even now, the "just say no," "just be assertive," "just negotiate better," etc approaches can have different consequences for women and men.

  • GM says:

    My point is that this problem is a straightforward consequences of (1) too few women and minorities in academia and (2) NIH demanding that we have diverse representation on our committees.

    Are there really too few women and minorities in academia?

    Is NSF, or whoever is funding them, demanding that there are men on the admission committees of the Gender Studies department and white people on those in the Race Studies department?

    I doubt it.

    There is a straightforward solution to all this -- we forget about this diversity crap and treat people like people instead of 150-200lbs bags of cells the primary characteristic of which is the excess of X chromosomes or melanin.

    However, something tell me that a good fraction of the "people of diversity" who are stuck with onerous work because of these factors, are in the same time deeply concerned about diversity issues. So I have hard really time feeling bad about them -- you collectively brought this upon yourself with stupid activism instead of focusing on what really matters (science).

  • DJMH says:

    we forget about this diversity crap and treat people like people instead of 150-200lbs bags of cells the primary characteristic of which is the excess of X chromosomes or melanin.

    I love, love, love this comment. Because it is so clear that for GM, white men are the default, and other people have "excesses" of X chromosomes or melanin. Like we fucking should leak them or something.

  • GM says:

    WTF?

    Reading comprehension, anyone?

  • The Other Dave says:

    qaz -- I understand what you're saying about rules requiring 'diversity' on committees being part of what increases minority & women workload. I noted the exact same problem in my earlier comment. But that doesn't mean we should just throw up our hands and pretend the problem doesn't exist. It still exists, and waiting around for increased minority representation (e.g. waiting around for someone else to fix the problem) is not the answer. In fact, that answer doesn't even make sense. If there's no minority underrepresentation, there won't be a need for rules requiring minority representation, in which case requirements for minority representation will no longer be a problem.

    So what you do is look at the workloads and see if anyone is being unduly burdened. If some are, you figure out why and fix it. If the reasons include requirements for minority representation on committees, then you explain why that rule cannot always be followed (e.g. you don't have enough people). Upper administration and HR are not complete idiots. They'll let you circumvent the rule or find someone from outside your unit to serve on the committee.

  • […] voters and that “special place in hell” A trend story about millennials, by The New York Times Service contributions of faculty “She sounds like Netanyahu”: Hillary Clinton goes extra hawkish in her biased, die-hard […]

  • SS says:

    Do Indians and Asians count as people of color? In case they do, I wish there would be a petition to leave out the hard working minorities from the heading of "people of color" in studies like this. For heaven's sake, spare us your filthy race baiting politics. Thank you for noticing how oppressed I am and offering people like me a helping hand. But, I am actually confident that I can take care of myself without your help.

    I would much rather publish my latest paper in a top journal, print it out and leave it under the Dept. Chair's door. If my paper gets rejected, I am gonna blame my own incompetence rather than my skin color. Thanks.

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