UMass ADVANCE principal investigator and professor of sociology, Laurel Smith-Doerr, recently presented initial findings from her research on faculty governance and equity at the Gender Summit 2021 Europe. Gender Summit is an international event that brings together “over 5000 participants and over 600 contributors from over 50 countries, representing expertise and leadership in policy, gender scholarship, science decision making and industry.” Since the Gender Summit platform was established in 2011, the main goal has been “the relationship between gender equality and research quality, and the need for action through scientific consensus.”
In this new project, conducted with UMass ADVANCE team members Ethel Mickey and Ember Skye Kanelee, Smith-Doerr posits that faculty governance is a kind of collaboration; the shared decision making that we do in our campus units is one way that faculty can collaborate. But as Smith-Doerr notes, “We have some equity challenges in faculty governance. Despite rules that might be thought to uphold equity through standardization of processes, faculty experience governance unequally, even when there may be stated attention to transparency.”
The study by Smith-Doerr and colleagues uses multiple research methods to investigate ways to recalibrate faculty governance for more equitable outcomes and actual transparency.
Smith-Doerr’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of a $3M institutional transformation grant that supports the UMass ADVANCE Program. UMass ADVANCE seeks to advance the careers of women faculty, including women faculty of color, in Science and Engineering. Faculty equity is enabled through the power of collaboration. Equitable collaboration rests on UMass ADVANCE’s R3 model (Resources, Relationships and Recognition). Resources reflect material support available to faculty, relationships capture the development of supportive networks, and Recognition identifies how work is evaluated and rewarded.
Research conducted by the UMass ADVANCE team is shared with the campus and beyond and informs a program institutional transformation that includes data collection and analysis, research and publications, workshops, training and tools, collaborative research seed grants, mutual mentoring grants, faculty awards and faculty fellows to liaise with their departments.