Ongoing Research

Recognition and Women’s Success: Associates in the Academy. PI: Mangala Subramaniam
© 2019 Mangala Subramaniam

Gendered forms of recognition have implications for who is rewarded and how power is structured. For instance, in the academy women’s success is often attributed to luck or affirmative action. Such attribution adversely affects the recognition of women’s accomplishments with variations in experiences among women as well as if race and ethnicity is considered. Structural conditions shape experiences and so the presence or absence of conducive conditions, often referred to as ‘climate’ will likely result in different outcomes for women compared to men. Women can get close enough to the ‘glass ceiling’ but few can break through the seemingly invisible barrier that excludes them. Though women have moved into academic positions in universities in increasing numbers over the past few decades, they are still under represented at the highest rank, that of full professor. How can we break down the barriers that women face at this level? The main goal of the proposed project was to examine the barriers faced by associate professors and develop recommendations. It is expected that institutional mechanisms identified through this project will lead to models of best practices for universities to adopt. The study was conducted in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) in 2017.

The faculty fellow exploratory project comprised four parts. The first part involved ‘taking stock’ which involved examining current trends in promotion of associates (women and men). The second part focused on gathering information about the practices that two major universities had put in place to facilitate the recognition of post-tenure faculty: Michigan State University and University of Nebraska. The third involved organizing two main events: a meeting separately for assistant and associate professors in CLA to review promotion procedures and guidelines and a panel of two invited speakers for a workshop for associates followed by presentations focused on recognition of associates. In the fourth part, primary data about recognition and climate related experiences of associates were gathered through focus groups and in-depth interviews with associates in CLA.

Outcomes:
  • To make information about promotion criteria and processes available to faculty, the meeting organized for assistants and associate (as two separate groups) will continue annually. A report from this study was presented at the College of Liberal Arts Senate’s Spring 2018 meeting. See full report here.
    Research Assistant: Zak Palmer
  • Paper titled, “Hidden Hurdles and Gendered Recognition: Perceptions of Associate Professors,” was presented at the 2020 virtual annual conference of the American Sociological Association. (Paper is under revision.)
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Building an Effectiveness Tool for Coaching and Resource Network (CRN). PI: Mangala Subramaniam
© 2019 Mangala Subramaniam
 
The Coaching and Resource Network (CRN) was created to support faculty members, specifically assistant and associate professors. Currently the CRN has a diverse set of 19 full professors from across disciplines and colleges. Although open to all assistant and associate professors, only women and women of color have elected to participate.
 
In a comprehensive review of scholarship on mentoring, de Janasza and Sullivan (2004), rely on past studies to note that complexities and challenges in within and outside institutions make the single mentor-mentee model insufficient. Faculty members may rely on a network of coaches who can serve different functions such as being a role model or providing career-related or emotional support (Corneille et al 2019). In addition, programs such as the CRN can have the potential to minimize barriers by decreasing isolation and alienation and increasing opportunities for collaboration. Initiatives such as the CRN can provide access to key scholarly networks or opportunity structures which build social capital and make mentees privy to the unwritten rules of the institutional culture and the larger discipline. 
 
Measuring the effectiveness and impact of such an initiative is complex. In addition to the very straightforward tangible measure of tenure and promotion, the tool is intended to capture its wider functions that perhaps has an effect on productivity.

The first phase of the study has commenced in the summer of 2021. Designed as a quasi-experimental qualitative study, the main goal of the first phase of the study is to understand both Coaches (CRN members – full professors) and Mentees experiences with the CRN. Research questions include: How have CRN members coached and advised their Mentees (assistants and associate professors)? What concerns and accomplishments do CRN members perceive as being central to their conversations with their Mentees? How do the Mentees describe their experiences with their Coaches? What have they gained? What concerns and accomplishments do Mentees perceive as being central to their conversations with their Coaches?
 
References Cited
Corneille, Maya, Anna Lee, Sherrice Allen, Jessica Cannady, Alexia Guess. (2019). “Barriers to the advancement of women of color faculty in STEM: The need for promoting equity using an intersectional framework.” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal. 38(3): 328-348.
de Janasza, Suzanne C. and Sherry E. Sullivan. (2004). “Multiple mentoring in academe: Developing the professorial network.” Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 263–283.
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Leadership and Racial Justice: Analysis of Statements by University Leaders (tentative title). PI: Mangala Subramaniam
© 2020 Mangala Subramaniam 
Undergraduate Assistant for this project: Zeba Kokan 
 
Two crises are challenging institutions of higher education in 2020: the devastating effects of COVID-19, including the racism faced by Asian Americans and disproportionate impacts on African Americans, and the racial injustices amplified by the death of George Floyd. Issues of sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, and homophobia are not new to institutions of higher education. Confronting them has been the challenge. 
 
Racial definitions, exclusions and inclusions, are created in the same organizing processes that also create and recreate gender inclusions and exclusions, resulting in a much more complicated picture of differences and inequities. The organizing processes are embedded as the culture of the institution that lacks attention to inclusion despite the assumed shared-governance approach of higher education institutions. 
 
Leaders of universities make commitments to address racism in efforts to transform institutions. Debates continue about whether and how the response from university leaders about diversity and inclusion after the protests following George Floyd’s death when compared to similar protests in the past. But what do statements put out by R-1 Universities after George Floyd’s death convey? Do they describe actions taken/to be taken? How? What are the implications of the findings for leadership in higher education institutions? How can leaders move towards ‘mainstreaming’ issues of diversity and be attentive to experiences involving the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, class, and immigrant status (foreign-born and First-Generation Immigrants). 
 
In the first phase of this study, we begin with an analysis of the statements released by 131 R-1 doctoral institutions in the U.S. The analysis will comprise two parts: (1) a basic quantitative analysis of the statements by coding for specific concepts related to racism and (2) a qualitative analysis using grounded theory to conduct a textual analysis. 
 
Outcomes:
  • The first paper from this study titled, “As a campus community, we stand with …”: Leadership Responsibility in Addressing Racism on University Campuses,” to be presented at the Regular Session, Racism, Anti-Racism. American Sociological Association Annual Meetings, August 2021
  • Subramaniam, Mangala and Zeba Kokan.  “As a campus community, we stand with …’: Leadership Responsibility in Addressing Racism on University Campuses.” In Dismantling Institutional Whiteness: Emerging Forms of Leadership in Higher Education edited by M. Cristina Alcalde and Mangala Subramaniam. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press. Forthcoming 2022.
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Study of Faculty Search Processes and Impact of Faculty Search Workshops at Purdue. PI: Mangala Subramaniam. Co-PIs: De Bush, Linda Mason, and Chris Sahley.
© 2020 Mangala Subramaniam
 
The faculty search workshop conducted by Purdue’s ADVANCE-Center for Faculty Success, Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate, and the Office for Institutional Equity is to account for diversity in search for excellent candidates/hires and mitigate bias in the process of the search. The Office of the Provost has required all faculty members who serve on a search committee to complete the workshop that holds for five years. Since being introduced, no study has been undertaken to assess and understand the experiences of faculty members in using the knowledge and tools for searches/hires which comprises at least four steps: (a) announcing search committee that finalizes job ad and develops criteria for each following step, (b) receiving and reviewing applications, (c) interview (often times two steps), and (d) finalizing recommendations (acceptability/rank ordering as applicable). This study is designed to focus only on faculty searches: tenure-track, tenured, clinical, and administrative. It does NOT include hiring of continuing lecturers, visiting faculty (any rank), post docs, and staff.
 
Research Questions
The following research questions will be addressed in the proposed study:
  1. What are faculty members’ experiences with serving as chair or as a member of a search committee?
    a. How do these experiences reflect (or not) effective and efficient committees?
    b. What are faculty members perceptions about creating (i) guidelines for the functioning of the committee and (ii) criteria for evaluation?
    c. Are there differences in the experiences of those who served as chair versus a member of the search committee? Why or why not?
  2. What kinds of recruiting procedures were deployed? Which of them appeared to be fruitful? Why or why not?
  3. What are the dominant points/criteria used for shortlisting applicants for interviews? And do they match (or not) with criteria outlined before the start of this process?
  4. How are interview processes typically occurring at Purdue?
  5. How can we explain the entire process of hiring in terms of attention to diversity and to mitigating bias?
     
Methods
The study will rely on primary data from (a) a short Qualtrics survey and (b) semi-structured interviews. Study instruments will be available after completion of the study.
 
The study commenced in the summer of 2021 and is being conducted by: Mangala Subramaniam (PI), Chris Sahley, Linda Mason, and De Bush (all Co-PIs).