Inside Higher Ed, Female Professors Outperform Men in Terms of Service — To Their Possible Professional Detriment:
Women shoulder a disproportionately large workload at home in ways that might disadvantage them professionally. But are female professors also “taking care of the academic family” via disproportionate service loads? A new study [Faculty Service Loads and Gender: Are Women Taking Care of the Academic Family?] says yes and adds to a growing body of research suggesting the same.
“We find strong evidence that, on average, women faculty perform more service than male faculty in academia, and that the service differential is driven particularly by participation in internal rather than external service,” the study says. “When we look within departments — controlling for any type of organizational or cultural factor that is department specific — we still find large, significant differences in the service loads of women versus men.”
All that matters because service loads “likely have an impact on productivity in other areas of faculty effort such as research and teaching, and these latter activities can lead directly to salary differentials and overall success in academia,” the paper says. “In the urgency to redress not only differences in time use but compensation imbalances, as well, the service imbalance is one that deserves to rise to the forefront of the discussion.” ...
In a first, basic crack at the data, the authors determined that women in the national sample performed 30 more minutes per week of service than men and 1.5 more service activities per year than men in the local sample, and that the difference was statistically significant in both cases. To glean more meaningful results and control for a number of factors, they proceeded with a multiple regression analysis. In the national sample, women reported 0.6 hours more service per week than men, controlling for rank, race and discipline. Female full professors, in particular, reported significantly more time spent on service than male full professors — though full professors of both genders spent the most time on service over all. Faculty members in business and some sciences appeared to spend less time on service than those in the arts and humanities. ...
Laura Perna, James S. Riepe Professor and executive director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania, said the new study sheds critical light on faculty workloads, especially with the suspension of the federally-funded National Study of Postsecondary Faculty in 2004. More broadly, the study raises important questions about “what it is we are valuing in our reward system,” she said. Service, not always rewarded like other kinds of faculty work, “is really oriented toward advancing [an institution’s] collective mission.”