A new Faculty of Arts and Sciences report identified two groups that shoulder higher service responsibilities on University committees: tenured faculty members and women.
The 71-page report by the 2016–18 Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty analyzed FAS faculty members’ service on 191 university committees from 2013 to 2017. According to CESOF findings, full professors make up 69 percent of FAS faculty who serve on University committees, despite this cohort only comprising 39 percent of FAS faculty. The report also found that in that time frame, female full professors were 17 percent more likely to serve on at least one University committee than their male counterparts. The percentage increased when associate professors with tenure, associate professors on term and assistant professors were also taken into account, with females in those groups being 28 percent, 23 percent and 102 percent more likely to serve.
The report states that the findings regarding faculty rank align with the standard view that senior faculty should shoulder a higher service rate than junior faculty, who “need ample time to launch their careers in research and teaching.” But the committee called for further analysis of inequalities in service by male and female professors to assess the “impact of university service on the economic and professional well-being of female faculty.”
According to Tamar Gendler, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the report highlights the need for increased diversity within the FAS.
“In situations where a group is underrepresented in a community — as are women and faculty of color in the FAS — they may end up with a disproportionate degree of responsibility, if there is a commitment to having committees that represent the diversity of the faculty,” Gendler said. “The solution is not to reduce diversity on committees: it is to increase diversity and excellence within the faculty ranks.”
Gendler said the FAS formerly had no systematic information regarding the distribution of University committee service work, but the CESOF report provides a preliminary understanding of challenges regarding service.
The committee analyzed the distribution of service responsibilities at Gendler’s request. While service on committees can also include within-department service or service on bodies external to the University, for its initial analysis CESOF decided to look solely at service on University committees. The committee worked in tandem with the FAS Dean’s Office to collect data relating to this type of service.
The report did not attempt to analyze how the increased service commitments affected relative salaries or promotion prospects for female faculty. CESOF recommended that the University and FAS establish a separate committee to more accurately incorporate service in the salary-review process, which factors into faculty contributions to the University when adjusting annual salaries.
According to the CESOF report, Yale’s discrepancies regarding both rank and gender in committee service align with those in other universities. William Nordhaus, chair of the FAS Senate, said the gender discrepancy “confirms what casual observation suggests.”
“Women faculty tend to serve on more committees than men,” he said. “While this may be costly for individuals, it is important as a way of ensuring that women and minorities are well represented in leadership positions to help move the university towards its goal of fairly representing all members of the broader population.”
Marla Geha, a CESOF committee member and professor of astronomy and physics, saw the relationship between committee service and rank and gender as nuanced issues. She said that although “you want representation from all parts of the University” taking on increased service responsibilities is also a “burden.” She echoed the report by calling for better record keeping of how faculty members spend their time.
Zoe Todd, a visiting fellow in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, said a higher administrative load could detract from time that could be spent researching and writing. As a visiting fellow, she says she has enjoyed spending the year with a diminished administrative role.
“I think something that’s really disturbing … that certain people are expected to do more labor,” said Todd. “And it’s not in positions where they are getting remunerated for it.”
The previous CESOF report was released in 2015.
Carly Wanna | firstname.lastname@example.org