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Research Report

Diagnose faculty racial inequity with these 8 critical metrics

February 28, 2022 , By Joshua Ddamulira, Associate Director

For years, colleges and universities have devoted significant time and resources to diversifying their faculty pipelines, using best practices like cluster hiring, inclusive job advertisements, and implicit bias training for hiring committees. However, recruiting diverse faculty is only the first step toward racial parity. Creating equitable conditions that encourage these faculty members to stick around is the second-and equally as critical-step.

BIPOC faculty can face inequitable working conditions throughout their time in academia-from heavier workloads to unequal opportunities for scholarship and career advancement. Faculty of color are more likely to take on full slates of service, including large advising loads and sitting on numerous committees. These high service workloads often go unrecognized and undercompensated and can get in the way of promotion and tenure for BIPOC faculty.

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Invisible labor characterizes the unrecognized and uncompensated work that BIPOC faculty experience in academia like mentoring BIPOC faculty and students or sitting on numerous committees, especially ones related to diversity. In the end, BIPOC faculty are burdened with higher service workloads than their white counterparts.

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Invisible Labor Definition

Institutions must do a better job quantifying BIPOC faculty experiences at the university, college/school, and department level to diagnose the source of faculty racial inequity and ultimately provide the appropriate intervention to improve working conditions for BIPOC faculty.

While there are dozens of activities departments could theoretically track, EAB recommends choosing a small number of high-impact metrics to keep the focus on what’s most important. Use the eight retention metrics below to help diagnose faculty inequities by race, gender, and discipline at your institution:

Measure racial disparities in career advancement

1. Time to promotion or tenure

University leaders typically have access to promotion and tenure data through human resources departments. However, most institutions don’t disaggregate time to promotion or tenure. Collect this data on a university and unit level to identify whether white faculty are getting promoted more often or faster than BIPOC peers.

2. Promotion and tenure rates

Similarly, units may discover disparate outcomes for underrepresented minority faculty members with this metric, especially if BIPOC faculty have already raised concerns about white faculty being promoted or achieving tenure at faster rates.

Quantify the invisible service burden for BIPOC faculty

All service isn’t created equal: Sitting on a doctoral committee is a greater commitment than sitting on an events committee, and serving as a chair of a committee is a greater commitment than serving as a member. Track both service hours and specific committee roles to truly understand which faculty take on the most service.

3. Number of advisees

Track faculty’s advisee loads not only to create more equitable assignments but also to flag where BIPOC faculty may face a higher service burden. BIPOC faculty spend more time formally or informally mentoring students than their white peers. If university leaders address these disparities, BIPOC faculty can devote more time to other priorities such as teaching and research.

4. Number of committees

Whether it’s sitting as a member or chair on a doctoral committee, graduate admissions committee, or a DEI faculty senate subcommittee, BIPOC faculty tend to devote more service to these committees than their white peers. Create a committee service dashboard to give deans and department chairs a clear portrait of disparities in faculty service activity.

Track BIPOC faculty teaching loads

5. Total credit hours taught and total number of students taught

Keep records of BIPOC faculty members’ course loads and average course sizes to understand if BIPOC faculty are taking on an unequal share of the teaching load at their institutions. Monitor individual assignments at the department level to avoid giving BIPOC faculty heavier teaching loads.

6. Number of course releases

While teaching must always be a priority for faculty, some institutions offer course releases to faculty to offset high-service activity (e.g., chairing a committee) or other time-intensive commitments like research fellowships. Track access to course releases to understand if there are differences across race, gender, and discipline.

Identify opportunities to support BIPOC faculty scholarship

Who has access to teaching support?: Graduate assistants, Ph.D. candidates, and postdocs lighten the teaching and research burden on instructors and principal investigators. Determine which faculty have access to support from course assistants and disaggregate by race, gender, and discipline.

7. Number of research grants awarded per grant proposal submission/total grant dollars awarded

Capture the success rate of BIPOC faculty grant proposal applications in addition to the grant amounts awarded. BIPOC faculty tend to receive fewer research grants than their white peers.

8. Number of publications

Track the number of journal articles, book chapters, books, and manuscripts faculty publish. When this metric is placed in context with teaching and service activity, university leaders can better diagnose disparities and redistribute workloads.

Want more metrics? Check out EAB’s Academic Vital Signs study to explore more department-level faculty DEIJ and research metrics.

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