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Gender and Service

I’ve been thinking about my face time with students. I know that I am a pretty good undergraduate advisor. The long line out my door attests to this, as well as the comments. But, when data was recently published about the gendered differences and increased service burden that women faculty face, I was not surprised, angry or frustrated. The reality is that students and departments do have different gendered expectations for the faculty and staff on campus. Frankly, they have them off campus when they are in store, business office, government offices, etc.

While I think it’s unfair that women carry more than a fair burden to advise and conduct service, I will continue to be the best undergraduate advisor that I can be. But, I will continue to try to offer a polite “no thanks” when other service heavy opportunities come my way. I try to be strategic with my yes and no responses. And, I will confer with my trusted “posse” of mentors and peers when these opportunities arise.

My advice to new instructors is to be savvy. Say yes when the service position is one that will open doors for you and where you can learn lots. Saying yes to high profile events can also serve a purpose–being seen is a positive. Remember that you represent your faculty or department, so do so with pride and integrity. But, by all means stay focused on keeping your job. If you do not get rewarded for service, then be more careful.

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