. "4 Professional Activities, Institutional Resources, Climate, and Outcomes." Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2010.
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Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty
Participation on Committees
Chairing committees was examined as one proxy for measuring marginalization—not having decision-making power within the department. As a first step, a variable was created to reflect the proportion of committees chaired by considering committees served on (i.e., the numerator is the number of committees chaired and the denominator is the number of committees served on, where the denominator is between zero and 9). Among the 1,063 faculty who served on at least one committee, 387 had chaired at least one committee. The variable was then dichotomized for faculty who participated on at least one committee into those who chaired at least one committee and those who chaired none of the committees on which they served. There was no significant difference between men and women in whether they chaired a committee on which they served (39 percent compared to 34 percent). An example of one of the committees reviewed is the chairing of undergraduate thesis committees. For this committee, there were disciplinary differences between male and female faculty in terms of chairing committees, with women chairing more committees than men in all fields except electrical engineering (see Appendix 4-5).
Professional activities, institutional resources, and climate can all be seen as inputs in the lives of faculty members. It is useful to know how faculty members spend their time, what resources are available to them, and how well integrated they are into the lives of their departments, universities, and disciplines. These factors are, however, only important to the extent that they contribute positively or negatively to a faculty member’s ability to perform at the highest level in his or her teaching and research. Each of these factors may contribute directly to a faculty member’s performance, or they may contribute to professional satisfaction and quality of life, which may in turn mediate between professional activities, institutional resources, and climate on the one hand and professional accomplishments on the other.
Teaching performance or effectiveness has been assessed in a variety of ways. The most prevalent is teaching evaluations (either by students or by peers), which are frequently used as performance indicators in salary, tenure, and promotion decisions (as well as for hiring decisions). Another possible approach that is interesting in principle but difficult in practice is the assessment of what students have learned in a course or while doing a project. One could also ask where a faculty member’s graduate students land postdocs, faculty positions, or other employment. Unfortunately, this information was not gathered as part of our survey, and there are no national studies on these outcomes, with the exception of a number of studies on student evaluations of teaching. Some of those studies have looked at whether there are gender differences in the evaluations male and female faculty receive