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Faculty Service Loads and Gender: Are Women Taking Care of the Academic Family?

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This paper investigates the amount of academic service performed by female versus male faculty. We use 2014 data from a large national survey of faculty at more than 140 institutions as well as 2012 data from an online annual performance reporting system for tenured and tenure–track faculty at two campuses of a large public, Midwestern University. We find evidence in both data sources that, on average, women faculty perform significantly more service than men, controlling for rank, race/ethnicity, and field or department. Our analyses suggest that the male–female differential is driven more by internal service—i.e., service to the university, campus, or department—than external service—i.e., service to the local, national, and international communities—although significant heterogeneity exists across field and discipline in the way gender differentials play out.

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  1. The response rate to the survey was 41 percent overall, and the institutional response rate was 48%. Although response rate by gender is not directly available, the survey administrators note that FSSE respondents are 51% male and 49% female, compared to the benchmark of faculty at all U.S. bachelor’s degree granting institutions that is 54% male and 46% female.  The difference between these two distributions may be due to the sample selection or to higher response rates among female faculty. That information is not available to the researchers. The following is a link to information on the 2014 FSSE:

  2. The full FSSE sample contained 18,860 faculty. After selecting for faculty who provided classroom instruction on-campus, the sample fell to 13,819. After selecting for US-based institutions, the sample became 13,581. After selecting for full-time faculty, then non-adjuncts, the sample fell to 10,650 and 10,077, respectively. After selecting for faculty with ranks and then tenure track, the sample fell to 8,629 and 7398, respectively.

  3. Comparative institutional control and basic Carnegie Classification statistics were derived from data extracted from the National Center for Education Statistics data center for all full-time tenured or tenure track faculty employed at Title IV eligible institutions classified as four-year, excluding predominantly associates institutions reported for the 2014–2015 cycle.

  4. The researchers were granted access to the faculty annual report data through a request to the chief academic affairs officers of the university and the two participating campuses. Access was granted under the proviso that the researchers report the results to those officers to support their own efforts to monitor equity in faculty workload.

  5. We use the proportion of chairs in the department who are female rather than an indicator variable for whether or not the department chair is female because there are a small number of departments that have more than one person listed as chair. For example, the anthropology department lists four chairs, two of whom are women, thus the value for this variable is .5. By and large, however, this proportion ends up being a 0 or a 1—thus it behaves like an indicator variable in most cases and like a dosage variable in a few select cases.

  6. Data for the separate regressions of each service category are not shown but are available upon request.


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Correspondence to Cassandra M. Guarino.

Appendix: FSSE and FYAR Data Descriptive Statistics

Appendix: FSSE and FYAR Data Descriptive Statistics

See Tables 10, 11 and 12.

Table 10 Summary of variables for full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty with a reported value for gender in the FSSE, 2014.
Table 11 Summary of variables for full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty in the FYAR, 2012.
Table 12 Summary of service activities by gender for full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty in the FYAR, 2012.

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Guarino, C.M., Borden, V.M.H. Faculty Service Loads and Gender: Are Women Taking Care of the Academic Family?. Res High Educ 58, 672–694 (2017).

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