June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Women in Engineering
26.812.1 - 26.812.14
Examining Department Heads Through A Gender LensInspired by storytelling circles with female academics, this paper examines the role ofdepartment heads vis-à-vis gendered career experiences and women’s persistentunderrepresentation among science and engineering faculty members. It focuses on the level ofpower heads are afforded, presents new and understudied perspectives on the department headliterature, and suggests research horizons and policy recommendations. Five gendereddimensions of department head literature are identified and discussed. Given that departmentheads play pivotal roles within the academy, their actions warrant further examination,specifically as they pertain to gender biases.The storytelling circles were one part of a larger research project, and they took place at a large,public, research-intensive university in the United States. Participants were both tenure-track andtenured female faculty members who represented seven different departments, all in the generalclassification of science, engineering and technology fields. While analyzing the data employingopen coding, the importance of department heads emerged as a leading theme. Throughout thestories, department heads were portrayed as pivotal actors. Positive stories recounted instanceswhen a department head had been ‘supportive’ in a way that had significant career implications.The stories highlighted the fact that department heads influence not only day-to-day jobsatisfaction but significant career outcomes such as tenure and promotion as well.The paper begins with a description of the path that led us to this analysis, which is important forunderstanding the structure of the article. Next, we identify five gendered dimensions of thedepartment head literature, explaining why each is problematic. We then discuss the relationshipbetween our data and the literature, and put forth recommendations for future research andtraining. In the conclusion, the paper explores an important topic that has not yet received criticalattention: the majority of current literature for and about department heads and the policyrecommendations therein do not adequately address, and in fact perpetuate, many of theproblems highlighted in our storytelling circles.
Beddoes, K. D., & Schimpf, C. T., & Pawley, A. L. (2015, June), Gender and Department Heads: An Empirically-Inspired Literature Review Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24149
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