Surviving and Thriving in Academia
This survival guide to academia for women and ethnic minorities is an updated and revised edition of a guide published in 1992 by the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP). This edition is the result of a collaborative effort between CWP and the APA Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology (CEMRRAT). It is designed to address changes that have taken place during the last 5 years which may dramatically affect the level of success, even the survival, of women and ethnic minorities choosing and pursuing careers in academic environments. Some of these recent changes include the increase in the number of contracted positions, 5-year reviews of tenured professors, changing job markets for private practice clinicians, and changes in the delivery of health care and changes in the nation's demographics toward a majority of color. These changes also have an impact on the preparation of services-oriented doctoral psychologists, who constitute the majority of women and ethnic minorities in psychology. The guide is designed to highlight critical career milestones so that women and ethnic minorities can prepare to meet these academic challenges.
Three other pamphlets that were prepared by CEMRRAT, Valuing Diversity in Faculty: A Guide, How to Recruit and Hire Ethnic Minority Faculty, and Diversity and Accreditation, are helpful supplements to this guide. These pamphlets were designed to aid the academic department seeking to hire faculty members of color, while this guide will assist prospective and current faculty who are members of an underrepresented group.
This guide has three major goals. One goal is to assist new PhDs who are women and/or ethnic minorities in seeking and selecting jobs that effectively complement their personal mix of skills and career goals. The second goal is to help women and ethnic minority faculty members maximize their chances of gaining promotion and tenure. A final goal is to identify strategies to support members of underrepresented groups as they encounter emotional and strategic challenges that may occur if they are denied tenure or promotion.
This guide is specifically addressed to junior (i.e., untenured and early career) faculty. However, as noted in the previously cited CEMRRAT pamphlets, important institutional issues continue to affect the context and academic climate for promotion and tenure of women and ethnic minorities. The authors are cognizant that psychology departments, professional schools, institutions, and the APA have a responsibility to address these issues.
The individuals with lead responsibility for creating this second edition were Angela B. Ginorio, PhD; Barbara W. K. Yee, PhD; and Martha E. Banks, PhD, from CWP, and Elizabeth Todd-Bazemore, PhD, from CEMRRAT.
Other CWP and CEMRRAT members who reviewed the document and provided input were: Martha Barry, PhD (CWP); Martha Bernal, PhD (CEMRRAT); Toy Caldwell-Colbert, PhD (CEMRRAT); Victor De La Cancela, PhD (CEMRRAT); Linda M. Forrest, PhD (CWP); Kristin Hancock, PhD (CWP); Phyllis Katz, PhD (CWP); Eduardo Morales, PhD (CEMRRAT); and Richard Suinn, PhD (CEMRRAT).
CWP and CEMRRAT are indebted and wish to give special thanks to Susan Houston, WomenÆs Programs Officer, Bertha Holliday, PhD, Director of the APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, and Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, PhD, Director of the APA WomenÆs Programs Office for their commitment and support throughout this project. Thanks also go to Jamie Bluth, LeAnne Ferdig, Patricia Rice, Angela e. Terry, and Joanne Zaslow, who provided editorial, design, and production support and consultation.
The committees also wish to thank the following individuals for their comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of the document:
Christine C. Iijima Hall, PhD; Christine Hartel, PhD; Jessica Kohout, PhD; Carol T. Mowbray, PhD; Georgine Pion, PhD; Jill Reich, PhD; and the 1996 members of the Board of Educational Affairs; Pamela Reid, PhD; Louise Silverstein, PhD; Corahann Okorodudu, EdD; Veronica Thomas, PhD; and members of the Washington State Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs: James Anthony, PhD; Ana Mari Cauce, PhD; Pam Hays, PhD; and Jennifer Watson, PhD.
Although many psychologists are socialized by their graduate school mentors to pursue a career in academia, most do not follow this career path. Data from a 1995 National Research Council survey indicate that out of 3,200 PhDs awarded that year, only 17.5% had definite contracts to teach, although 62% planned an academic career. As is the case in most careers, the path to success in academe can be particularly challenging for underrepresented groups-women, ethnic minorities, lesbians, gay men, and people with disabilities. Sexism, racism, heterosexism, and ableism (Ed. Note: Ableism is prejudice or discrimination based on disability) interfere with achievement in the form of hiring, 1 tenure, promotion, and salary equity. Although it is true that women and ethnic minorities are being hired for academic jobs more often than in previous generations (Crowley & Lane, 1986; Lane, et al., 1990), gaining promotion and tenure continues to be fraught with difficulty for these groups (Brush, 1991; Zuckerman, 1991). Women and ethnic minorities continue to be underrepresented in academic departments of psychology, and pay inequities by gender and minority status remain (Crowley& Lane, 1986; Wicherski & Kohout, 1996).
Self-study reports from various universities concerned with the status of women and ethnic minority faculty provide evidence of current discriminatory practices (University of Texas Report of the Committee on the Advancement of Minorities, August 7, 1995). For instance, the University of Texas reports documented double standards in evaluation. Accomplishments of women and ethnic minorities went unrewarded or were devalued while relatively minor achievements of White men were recognized. Coupled with the myth that diversity diminishes the quality of academic standards, a backlash against diversity may have increased differences in salary, promotion, and tenure decisions.
More than a decade after Russo, Olmedo, Fulcher, and Stapp (1981) found that "women and minority group individuals are less likely to be tenured, more likely to have lower academic rank, and more likely to be represented among faculty with joint or part-time appointments" (p. 1,321), this pattern persists. In 1993-1994, women represented 18% of the full professors, 33% of the associate professors, and 50% of the assistant professors in institutions of higher education, and comprised 22% of tenured faculty. Pay for female faculty was lower in most of the professorial ranks (Wicherski & Kohout, 1993-94). This pattern of decreased representation as academic rank increases is also evident for ethnic minorities. Just over 3% were full professors, almost 9% were associate professors, and just under 15% were assistant professors (Wicherski & Kohout, 1996).
Some progress was revealed in the 1996-1997 Survey of Graduate Departments of Psychology, by the American Psychological Association and Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology; however, equity has not yet been achieved in tenure status, nor in gender or ethnic parity. Across doctoral departments of psychology, 94% of White faculty, 2% of Black faculty, 2% Hispanic and Asian American faculty were tenured. Of those faculty in doctoral departments who were tenured, 76% of men versus 51% of women, and 71% of Whites versus 42% of minority faculty were tenured. This gender and ethnicity gap did not hold for the "on tenure track or associate professor" with women and ethnic minority faculty present in higher percentages with lower academic ranks. This trend may reflect the changing gender composition of younger cohorts of psychologists and the greater number of ethnic minority faculty who have been trained in more recent years. However, with the changing composition of psychology may be a parallel trend in erosion of status and salary compensation of psychologists or, with this erosion, White men have chosen other professions.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1985), in 1985, 83% of the tenured professors in the United States were White men. This critical mass of White men, while likely enhancing tenure outcomes for White men, may increase feelings of isolation and lack of social support for female and ethnic minority faculty members. Research by Jackson, Brett, Sessa, and Cooper (1991) demonstrates the importance of individual similarity and group heterogeneity as correlates of retention. A study over a 4-year period of top management teams in bank holding companies showed that the level of turnover was predicted by team heterogeneity. Higher turnover was predicted by a lack of similarity to other group members, but promotion was not.
This dynamic is mirrored in many academic settings. Ethnic minority and female faculty are more likely to leave academia and be more dissatisfied than their White male counterparts (University of Texas, 1995).
A critical mass of ethnic minority and female faculty in the department and university, however, is more predictive of retention during the early years of academia rather than the later years. These studies suggest that if female and ethnic minority faculty are mentored and provided with social support during their first 3 years in an academic setting, the number of voluntary academic dropouts can be reduced. The first 3 years in academia, therefore, are a critical period for junior faculty to seek mentors and supportive colleagues, and for institutions to ensure the junior faculty are offered help by tenured faculty and colleagues.
Although great strides have been made in increasing representation for women and ethnic minorities in academe, equity has not been achieved. Studies of academic salaries and rank attainment by gender demonstrate that even after accounting for academic credentials and length of experience, gender differences remain, suggesting different treatment of academically comparable men and women (Bergmann, 1985). Furthermore, data on retention reveal that women and ethnic minorities do not receive promotion and tenure at rates comparable to those of White men (Wicherski, Kohout, & Fritz, 1990). This is not because women and ethnic minorities are less deserving, work less hard to achieve tenure, or make contributions of lower worth or significance than their White male colleagues. Success in the academic arena is governed to a large extent by adherence to a set of explicit and implicit rules and priorities that women and ethnic minorities have had little role in shaping and sometimes find alienating and oppressive. Individuals in these groups are more likely than White men to experience ambivalence about "playing the game" according to the demands of the White male-dominated system (Sandler & Hall, 1986). Many face dilemmas as they try to successfully negotiate an academic career in a setting in which the established goals may conflict with values they hold.
This guide was written and reviewed by psychologists who have experienced or have close personal knowledge of the opportunities and special challenges posed by academia to women and ethnic minorities. It has been developed for women and ethnic minority psychologists considering academic careers to address two important career milestones and a possible negative career shift if tenure is denied. The first milestone is making the decision about the type of job one should pursue and, if one chooses academia, the type of academic setting, the match between potential job and skills with career goals, and negotiation for resources that will enhance a productive career. The information provided by the guide will enable the academic job candidate to consider more fully questions such as: What types of academic careers are available to me? How can I tell if this department really values diversity? What roles am I expected to fill in this department as a faculty member? Which of these roles stem from my being an ethnic minority and/or a woman? Which of these roles are of personal and professional interest to me? Which of these roles will jeopardize my tenure attainment? What are the potential areas in which I could get "bogged down" and thus impair my ability to move ahead in my academic career? How can I optimize my academic experiences so as to increase the likelihood of survival (e.g., promotion and tenure)?
Part I of this guide, "Deciding on Academia: What Are Your Options?" will address these and other issues affecting women and ethnic minorities in academic psychology departments. This part will focus primarily on the recruitment process. It is important to keep in mind that activities related to retention are clearly begun during the recruitment process and if they are handled well by both the candidate and the department, many potential retention problems can be avoided. Therefore, all of the issues discussed throughout this part will directly affect the successful retention of women and ethnic minorities as faculty.
Part II of this guide addresses "Strategies for Maximizing Your Chances for Promotion and Tenure." By making the rules of the system that govern tenure more explicit, we hope to assist women and ethnic minorities in examining their own personal standards in the context of the external demands of the tenure and promotion processes. Although knowledge is a source of power, academic situations in which sexism, racism, heterosexism, and ableism are entrenched create strong barriers to success regardless of the effort the individual exerts. In such situations, it may be wise for an individual to consider moving to another institution where discrimination is less of an obstacle to success. The rules discussed here do not encompass all possible situations, but we hope to enable individuals to develop personalized strategies for enhancing success.
Part III focuses on strategies for coping with the emotional trauma of an adverse decision regarding promotion and tenure to help the new academician avert a negative career shift. Any job termination is traumatic. The strategies that are discussed here take into account the characteristics of academic positions. Many of these strategies apply to all individuals and are intended as suggestions, not as prescriptions. Ultimately, each individual is the best "judge" of what makes sense in a particular situation.
The guide has been created as a reference and resource. It provides an overview of key issues and a compilation of references that cover these issues in greater depth. A number of excellent books and articles have been published on different aspects of this subject (see references and resource list). We hope that this guide will be helpful to individuals who feel that they are alone in facing these academic challenges; who are unaware of the resources available to them; and/or who need a little guidance to begin, survive, and excel in this process.
Opportunities for work in psychology are expanding in scope and number. Teaching, research, and clinical service, which constituted the primary occupations of psychologists in earlier eras, are now only three of many open to psychologists. In 1973, colleges and universities employed the majority of psychologists (56% of full-time employed psychologists). In 1991, academic institutions were still the top employer of psychologists, although their share had dropped to 38% (American Psychological Association, 1995).
Academic careers can be extremely rewarding and offer the opportunity to teach, interact with developing professionals, and in most cases, conduct important research. The availability of jobs in academe, however, has fluctuated dramatically during the last 3 decades. Consequently, competition for academic jobs has increased.
To be competitive, individuals preparing for academic careers should begin early. If you do not have a teaching or research assistantship when you begin your graduate work, try to get one. Each gives valuable experience that will be useful in your later job search. Research assistantships are particularly helpful because they put you in a position to work with an established researcher and likely receive valuable experience and opportunities to publish. It is important to begin your publication history while in graduate school.
One of your most important decisions prior to beginning a job search is deciding on the type of academic institution in which you would like to work. Many types of academic institutions exist, and they differ in substantive ways. Institutions vary in the way they evaluate faculty performance. Most academic institutions have some form of a promotion and tenure process, which they use to evaluate and reward the performance of faculty members. Also, institutions may or may not have ethnic, women's, or comparative studies departments. Candidates should be aware of all of these factors in assessing institutions. Institutions vary in their fundamental missions.
1. Typical duties dictated by various types of institutions/programs
Faculty responsibilities and duties also vary based on differences in the institutional mission. If an institution stresses research and graduate training in its mission statement, expectations of faculty will include development of a program of research. Likewise, if undergraduate teaching or preparation of students for entry into a 4-year institution is stressed in the mission statement, faculty responsibilities will emphasize teaching or advising. A prospective candidate can find it informative to examine the institutional and departmental mission statements. The Carnegie rating of institutions may also be helpful in determining the foci of the institution. The following descriptions highlight the major responsibilities of faculty in various types of institutions.
a. Public and private doctoral-level research institutions
Faculty at this type of institution will probably serve as faculty to both graduate and undergraduate students. They are expected to teach courses, direct graduate student thesis and dissertation research, serve on university committees, provide community service, and develop a productive research program. Promotion and tenure decisions are typically based on successful research, teaching, and service (often weighted in that order). Some of these institutions also offer PsyD programs, which emphasize applied aspects of psychology more than research.
b. Professional schools of psychology
Faculty at these institutions typically teach in PhD and PsyD programs that focus on application of psychology in a variety of settings. These include clinical, research, program evaluation, intervention, and program demonstration settings. PhD programs are usually more research focused, whereas PsyD programs focus more on the applied aspects of psychology.
c. Four-year public or private institutions
These institutions focus on undergraduate education. There is less emphasis on research and more on teaching. Faculty are often responsible for teaching more classes than they would be at a research institution. Promotion and tenure decisions are based on teaching, advising, and service. Research and publications are increasingly emphasized in some of these institutions.
d. Two-year public or private institutions
Here, the emphasis is on teaching and advising students. The institutional focus is on preparing students either to enter the workplace or to continue on to a 4-year institution.
e. Ethnically concentrated institutions
These institutions (also known as Historically Black, Predominately Hispanic, and Tribal Colleges and Universities) began in reaction to the legal racial segregation of college and university campuses and the inability of people of color to obtain higher education degrees. Others evolved because of the ethnic concentrations of their student and community populations. These institutions generally offer 2- or 4-year and/or graduate degrees and often operate similarly to other public or private institutions but with a special focus on meeting the academic, social, research, and leadership needs of students and communities of color. This may be reflected in course content requirements (e.g., more multicultural material integrated throughout the curriculum), the availability of bilingual teaching, culturally sensitive teaching styles, and attention to nonmainstream cultural learning styles, and numerous opportunities for minority student mentoring and leadership.
f. Medical schools, schools of public health, and teaching hospitals
The emphasis in these institutions is on the training of medical students, psychiatric residents, psychology interns, and trainees from other mental health professions. Developing a successful research program is often also expected as is providing psychological services. The employment period may be a full 12-month year as opposed to the traditional academic 9-month period.
Grantsmanship tends to also be highly valued. In these institutions, salaries may be more negotiable and flexible than in other settings, and you should explore various salary options. You may also be able to enhance your salary through private practice, sometimes with space provided by the employer. In some situations, the psychologist is supporting the MD in getting his or her research program started. Nevertheless, these types of settings are more likely to allow you to be a member of a multidisciplinary team.
g. Ethnic, women's, and comparative studies departments
Ethnic, women's, and comparative study departments may exist within many of the above-listed types of institutions. These departments typically focus on multidisciplinary perspectives of specific cultural, ethnic, or gender groups. For example, a psychologist in such a department might teach a course on minority child development or do research on the psychology of women. A faculty member may have a full appointment to such a department or may have a joint appointment within the multidisciplinary department and the psychology department. If it is a joint appointment, be aware that this may mean you will have a heavier workload than that of a single departmental appointment, and possibly two differing sets of criteria for promotion, tenure, and salary increases.
2. Promotion and tenure models
Most promotion and tenure decisions are based on one of two models. In the traditional tenure model, promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor is usually linked with the granting of tenure. In this system, faculty members are typically reviewed in their fifth or sixth year for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. To obtain promotion and tenure, a candidate must be successful in the areas of research, teaching, and service. Tenure brings security and additional rights such as participation in promotion and tenure decisions. Achieving tenure guarantees a contract each year without the need for further review until the faculty member is eligible for promotion to full professor or unless circumstances require an additional review.
Another promotion and tenure model employs what is known as "rolling contracts." According to this system, an institution may offer a contract which is renewed every year for the following 2- or 3-year period. After a stipulated number of years, the institution may grant the faculty member a "rolling contract," which means that his or her contract is automatically renewed for 3-to-5 year periods, pending acceptable performance ratings. A positive aspect of this system is that it allows the individual more time for professional development than does the traditional "tenure clock."
Some institutions offer neither tenure nor rolling contracts. In these cases, the faculty member is typically rehired on a year-to-year basis. This type of evaluation system lacks the relative job security of tenure.
Once you understand the various models of performance evaluation and reward among institutions, you will be better prepared to make a decision about the type of environment in which you would function best.
In deciding which type of institution would be most appropriate for you, questions such as the following may be helpful in your exploration of various institutions.
What is the expected focus of the position for which I am applying?
What are the exact promotion and tenure criteria upon which I will be evaluated?
What is the potential workload associated with this type of institution?
What resources are available for carrying out the responsibilities of the position?
What level of training is required for this position?
Are professional development opportunities available?
Are exchange programs with other institutions available?
Is mentoring by other ethnic minority and/or women faculty, senior faculty available?
Are opportunities for continuing education available?
Is it possible to obtain release time for research?
Are junior faculty research funds available?
What support mechanisms (e.g., statistical or computer services, seed grants) are available?
One of the first opportunities to get answers to some of these questions is the announcement of a position opening.
1. The position announcement
Job advertisements and position announcements vary, but most usually say something about welcoming applications from women and members of ethnic minority groups. This type of statement does not impart any information about the following, which you will want to know before you make an employment decision:
The value of diversity to the hiring department;
The extent to which departmental faculty may have explored issues of diversity relative to their department;
The department's expectations of a woman and/or ethnic minority faculty member;
Whether or not there are other female or ethnic minorities in the department;
The kind of support there might be for female and ethnic minority faculty on the campus and in the community.
Academic departments are just beginning to learn how to convey in position announcements their values about diversity and commitment to hiring women and ethnic minority members. Many are starting to understand that simply saying they welcome applications from these groups will not successfully recruit candidates to their institutions. Boilerplate statements, often the result of EEOC requirements, convey too little information about institutional values, practices, and environment to prospective candidates.
Position announcements may now contain additional information that will allow prospective applicants to make more informed choices about where to apply. Be aware of the various ways in which this information might be communicated. You may also want to note those institutions that do not take the care to provide this information. While it may not be the deciding criterion about whether or not to apply to a particular institution, you will at least want to carefully evaluate the institutional climate around issues of diversity.
Position announcements typically convey three primary pieces of information: (1) overview of the department/institution, (2) primary job responsibilities, and (3) qualifications for the position. According to the APA Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology's pamphlet How To Recruit and Hire Ethnic Minority Faculty (Caldwell-Colbert et al., 1996), a well-written announcement can accomplish these goals and convey the institution's ethnic sensitivity as well. The following is an example of an announcement that successfully conveys this information. Note especially the wording in bold face.
The Department of Psychology invites applications for two tenure track position openings at the assistant or associate professor level in nonclinical applied psychology to begin August [ ]. PhD required. $32,712 to $57,156 AY. The university and department have a strong commitment to achieving diversity among faculty and staff. We are particularly interested in receiving applications from members of underrepresented groups and strongly encourage women and persons of color to apply for these positions. Applicants should have expertise in one or more of the following areas: survey research, applied measurement, program evaluation, impact assessment, personnel organizational behavior, group and team process, cross-cultural issues. Applicants should have an established research program in a substantive area such as community psychology, applied social psychology, public health, or industrial/organizational psychology. Candidates should be prepared to teach undergraduates and graduates as well as supervise in core competency area (theory, assessment, multicultural issues, research, and both master's and doctoral project development) and be committed to diversity as a core value. Initial review of materials begins [ ]. Applicants should send letter of application, a statement of teaching and research interests, curriculum vita, reprints/manuscripts in progress, and three letters of recommendation to: [ ].
Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity
Title IX Employer
This position announcement conveys the value of ethnic diversity to the hiring institution by emphasizing the importance of attracting candidates who bring that added dimension and who can facilitate further growth in creating a more culturally and ethnically diverse setting (Caldwell-Colbert, et al., 1996).
2. Researching diversity in the institution
Once you have chosen an institution to explore, carefully review its descriptive literature (both printed and electronic) and consider the following with relation to diversity:
Is diversity a prominent priority in the mission statement, programs, initiatives, administrative policies, and other activities of the institution?
What proportion of faculty members on campus are ethnic minority and/or women?
How many of these are tenured?
Are there members of ethnic minority groups and/or women represented in the administration of the campus?
Do public statements by the administration reflect a commitment to diversity on the campus?
What is the racial/gender makeup of the student body?
Is diversity evident in the type and composition of student organizations on campus? If the position announcement mentions diversity but you find no other information that supports that interest, it is wise to question the depth of the commitment. You should also make some detailed inquiries about the position. Talking to colleagues, professors, and professional contacts will be important at this point. If your application was solicited, find out how the institution obtained your name.
1. Responding to a position announcement
Once you have identified positions and institutions that you want to pursue, you need to make the initial contact. This may be in the form of a letter or phone call of inquiry, particularly if you have questions about the position. The first contact may also be the formal letter and application packet. If you have interest and work in diversity, you may want to mention your interest.
Once you make the initial contact, your status as a woman and/or person of color will likely be apparent. If you are contacted for an interview, you may want to ascertain:
a. How much of the pursuit is based on your ethnic minority status and/or female status,
b. How much is based on your abilities as a psychologist and scholar, and
c. How much it matters to you which reason is primary.
2. The interview/visit to the institution
Assuming your expertise and skills are in line with those being sought by the institution, you may be invited for a visit and interview. This is a time during which you can learn more about the institution's commitment to diversity, among other things. You should investigate several areas during your visit. Gauge how comfortable the department representative is in discussing diversity issues, the department/institution's progress on diversity issues, and the role that you would play with regard to diversity. The level of comfort that faculty members and administrators demonstrate and the progress to date on these issues will give you some idea of how strong the institution's commitment is to diversity.
If the department cannot articulate what the role of an ethnic minority faculty member would be or if there are few female faculty members, this is a good indication of the extent the department has examined these issues. Sometimes it is evident that a department or institution believes that valuing diversity simply means increasing the number of ethnic minority and women students and faculty on campus. Once again, these issues have not likely been thought about or discussed in any real depth.
Departments set aside times for the applicant to engage in interviews with various people, ranging from the Dean to faculty to students to the position selection committee. Your responsibility is to demonstrate your strengths and fit for the position. But these interviews also afford opportunities for you to learn more about the institution, the department, and the community. Be ready to respond to questions such as "Why did you select this institution for a possible position?" But also be equally ready to raise questions such as "How do you, as a Dean, view the quality of the department?" or "How are ethnic minority and women students supported in the program?"
During the interview, you can learn more about many things, including the institution's commitment to diversity. You should thoroughly investigate the degree of fit between your research and teaching interests and the needs of the institution. Although it is important to investigate this fit very broadly, for many ethnic minority and women applicants, the department and the institution commitment to diversity issues may also be quite important. In this area, you should gauge how comfortable the department representative is in discussing diversity issues, the department/institution's progress on diversity issues, and the role that you would play with regard to diversity.
It can be valuable to identify the background and interests of the department's faculty before you apply; doing your homework confirms that you have more than a passing interest in the position.
It is also helpful to know if any other ethnic minority and/or women faculty are on campus. It is particularly important in the case of ethnic minority faculty on predominately White campuses. Do not underestimate the importance of social and lifestyle issues when making a move to a new position. Living happily in an academic position is not simply about tenure. Being the only member of a particular group in the community might be an isolating experience no matter how much you enjoy the job. Similarly, if you are single or have children, the community issues are ones which you should explore before accepting the position. This is particularly true for ethnic minority faculty members in a predominately White institution. If an ethnic minority community is available, participation in the activities of this community can be a critical contribution to personal survival in the institution. It is equally important to check on the availability of essential services and products. For example, is there someplace in the community that is familiar with African American hair or do the local grocery stores carry ingredients for ethnic foods? It is also important to make sure that needed health care professionals and facilities are readily available.
Women and ethnic minority faculty members are often requested or are drawn to do service within the community. This can be quite helpful in making professional and personal contacts in the community beyond the campus. These requests may be quite numerous and, although highly valued by the community, it is important to remember that these activities are often the least valued in the promotion and tenure process. It is also important to realize that involvement in community activities and projects can be a critical element in personal support. This is particularly true for ethnic minority faculty members in predominately White institutions.
Other female and ethnic minority faculty on campus, especially if they are senior tenured faculty, can also provide you with important information. You may want to find out if ethnic minority and/or female faculty members have left this institution before tenure or following unfavorable promotion and tenure decisions. Ask if you can talk with ethnic minority and/or female faculty members, administrators, professional staff, students, and community representatives during the visit as part of your interview schedule.
A related issue, particularly salient for ethnic minority candidates, is the availability of research populations. Many ethnic minority faculty members have research interests which require ethnic minority research populations. If your research has such a focus, it is helpful to know if these populations are readily available in the area and if connections have already been made with these populations. Or find out if the department will support necessary travel to locations where these populations are located.
You should give careful consideration to what you will wear for your first interview at the institution, because appearance makes a strong impression. You should look professional and yet fit in with the atmosphere on the campus. Knowing something about the institutional climate will pay off, as you will want to gear your image to the campus. For example, if the campus is small, in a rural area, and your visit will be in the middle of winter, you might decide to make a less formal appearance than in other situations. Ethnic minority candidates may wonder if they should wear clothes that speak of their ethnic background to an interview. Again, knowing the environment would be helpful in making this decision.
Specific questions you should seek answers to during your visit include:
Can members of underrepresented groups really succeed in this system?
Is this environment truly hospitable and encouraging to women and ethnic minorities?
Is diversity really valued or just considered an unavoidable political necessity?
These questions cannot always be asked directly but you may be able to discern the answers during the course of the visit.
On most campuses you will be invited to present a colloquium of about 1 hour to faculty and students during your visits. Choose a topic that is congruent with the job functions-a research study, possibly based on your most recent work, would be expected at a traditional research institution. This presentation serves not only to indicate your knowledge of research, but also to demonstrate your teaching abilities and your attitudes toward students. Use media and handout outlines to increase your effectiveness and to organize your presentation. Expect to have questions, some of which will require you to reply to alternative interpretations of your results. A good way of preparing is to practice your colloquium with your present colleagues to assure a smooth delivery and time management. Have a colleague or mentor critique your content and delivery for clarity, distracting mannerisms, etc.
Many institutions put heavy stock in teaching ability. At such institutions, in addition to or instead of delivering a standard colloquium, the job applicant may be asked to present a lecture to an undergraduate class in order to assess the applicant's ability in that forum. As in a standard colloquium, being prepared, comfortable, and able to communicate at various levels will often be key to a positive assessment of your teaching ability.
Once you are offered the position, the critical process of negotiation begins. Applicants often are not aware of the importance of this process to their potential long-term survival within the institution. In addition, they may be uninformed about how to proceed to ensure their greatest advantage throughout the negotiation process. In fact, without the proper mentoring and advising throughout the negotiation process, applicants may not realize the impact these negotiations might have on their future satisfaction and ability to succeed in their academic careers. Often, applicants are naive about promotion and tenure and the importance of establishing, in advance, the criteria for moving successfully through this process. Therefore, you, as an applicant heading for negotiation, should recognize and understand: the importance of degree requirements, salary, equipment, and research space; what the department expects of you; promotion and tenure standards and procedures; and the availability of sabbaticals and other types of leave.
1. Degree requirements
Although most 4-year and graduate training institutions require the terminal doctoral degree, you should be aware of two things: First, many other types of institutions, particularly those without graduate training programs, will often accept candidates with a master's degree. Second, even institutions that require the terminal degree will often accept candidates who have completed all but the dissertation requirements for their terminal degree (PhD, PsyD, or EdD). Employment offers are often made at a lesser rank or salary, with advancement linked to a requirement that the future employee will complete the degree in a specified amount of time. However, it can be difficult to start a new job, take on the many service requests frequently expected of ethnic minority and female faculty members, and still complete the degree in the required time period. If you find yourself in this situation, try to negotiate for release time from faculty duties (e.g., committee assignments and/or course load) in the first semester or first academic year to complete your degree requirements. Find out when the tenure clock starts counting toward your tenure. It is critical that you protect that time, as regular faculty duties and service requests can easily take it up.
2. Salary, equipment, and research space
Salary, equipment, and research space are points for negotiation. Effectively negotiating these points requires you to have a certain amount of information and skill. Good mentoring can be critical in this process. You need to have some knowledge of the range of typical starting salaries both for the institution you are considering and for similar regional and national institutions (the annual "Faculty Salaries" survey published by the APA Center for Workforce Studies (CWS) is one source for such information).
In state institutions salaries are often public information available in the reference section of the college library or through the Affirmative Action Office. Your receipt of research grants and external funding can be used to positively influence salary negotiations. You may also negotiate additional prerequisite packages including moving expenses, travel allowances, research funds and/or space, time and/or space for private practice, support for continuing education and training, and support staff. Even when salaries are restricted to a particular range, there may be some leeway to purchase startup equipment such as computers and laboratory supplies. If your research program will require space in addition to your primary office, you should negotiate this also. You should also discuss the availability of research or teaching assistants and clerical help.
3. Departmental expectations
The representative(s) of the recruiting department should clearly articulate the expectations for the role and performance of any prospective new member. This should include not only the general faculty role expectations, but also whatever duties the new member would have with regard to diversity in the department and within the institution. These expectations should relate directly to those things that will be assessed during performance evaluations and the promotion and tenure decision making process. You need to clearly understand and inquire about:
What your roles and responsibilities will be;
What the roles and responsibilities of other faculty members will be. Ask about teaching loads, advising and mentoring, committee and service responsibilities with regard to women and minority faculty versus those of White, male faculty members of similar rank;
What counts for performance evaluation and whether your job expectations will be heavily counted towards tenure and promotion;
If added or unique responsibilities are heavier than those of other similarly ranked faculty, and if these responsibilities would be further compensated and/or documented in your annual review letter.
There may be some big differences in the department's expectations for White women than those for ethnic minority women. Minority applicants are often expected to be knowledgeable about ethnic minority psychology-some will be and some will not. The ethnic minority candidate should make a point of determining whether the department expects him or her to teach the ethnic minority psychology class, to mentor minority students, and to serve on the minority committee. Being prepared to respond appropriately to these expectations might make or break an applicant.
Women and ethnic minority faculty members are often overwhelmed with extra committee assignments, service responsibilities, and student advising and mentoring. In many research institutions, these activities all fall under the evaluation area of "service," which is often the least valued area in promotion and tenure considerations. For example, Suinn and Witt (1982), in a survey of graduate programs in psychology, found that "minority service" was viewed by department chairs as the number one obstacle to earning tenure. In a more recent follow-up survey to this study, Suinn (1996) found that minority service continued to be identified among the top four obstacles to earning tenure. If the department expects you to engage in committee and service activities related to "minority issues," it is critical to negotiate for their added weight in the evaluation process. If these expectations are not made clear from the beginning, but you observe that other women and ethnic minority faculty on campus are heavily engaged in these types of activities, you must be cognizant of the potential implications of your choice to engage in such activities.
In some cases, it is possible that you will be the only ethnic minority member of the faculty on campus. If that is the case, and students of color are on the campus, you can expect that those students will be directed to you for advising and mentoring. Because ethnic minority faculty members often share a deep level of understanding and empathy for the struggles of ethnic minority students, they often welcome, or find difficult to turn away, this type of activity. However, even if it is encouraged at the departmental and/or institutional level, you should know from the beginning if it is likely to be rewarded or overlooked during the evaluation process.
4. Promotion and tenure criteria
You should seek to obtain agreement with the department on the exact criteria used during the promotion and tenure process. Ethnic minority faculty members are often inundated with service requests within the department, the university, and the community. This may be because of the need for ethnic minority representation on various committees, the need for ethnic minority role models for students, or because of the perceived or demonstrated expertise of the ethnic minority faculty member in diversity issues. Although serving in these roles is valuable, the time required often competes with time needed for faculty duties, such as teaching, advising, and developing a research program. Further, if the promotion and tenure criteria reflect only more traditional faculty roles, you could be at a distinct disadvantage. This is most often reflected in the slow development of a program of research. If your duties will include diversity functions, you should negotiate while you are a candidate as to whether or not promotion and tenure criteria will also reflect these service and diversity roles. Some institutions, in order to ensure the promotion and tenure of new faculty, reduce the teaching loads for the first few years, especially if new faculty members are doing a great deal of service with community and ethnic minority students. This is an important option to explore.
5. Sabbaticals and other types of leave
Traditionally, sabbaticals, a period of time (often one or two semesters) during which a faculty member is released from duties to pursue a research project, write a grant, develop a new course, etc., are awarded after a faculty member has been tenured. However, some institutions are now utilizing leaves or sabbaticals in innovative ways. It is often the case that the most important time for an individual to have uninterrupted time to research and publish is before the tenure process. Some institutions have developed special programs in which they grant leaves to junior faculty of color and female faculty for the purpose of preparing for tenure. This is something that you may negotiate during the hiring process.
You might also inquire about other types of leave a junior faculty may get to pursue professional development opportunities such as funded postdoctoral research or study, or a congressional fellowship. Maternity and/or family leave policies should also be discussed. Be sure to understand the positive or negative impact each type of leave might have on the "tenure clock."
Make sure that any agreements are put in writing as part of the final offer that you will accept and sign.
Finding an advisor/mentor early in the process can be a valuable move for you to make as a job seeker. The advisor/mentor might be a graduate school advisor, an internship supervisor, or anyone knowledgeable about academia. This person can help by ensuring that you are aware of the kinds of questions to ask, the things to look for throughout the process, and ways to strengthen your application to make it attractive to potential employers. One of the most important areas in which a mentor can help is in the development of the curriculum vita (c.v.). Often, applicants leave out information that is important or include information that is not relevant. A mentor/advisor can review both the c.v. and the cover letter and make suggestions about how to strengthen them. The c.v. is the first evidence a hiring institution will see about you, so making the best possible impression is essential. A mentor may also be able to advise you as to whether or not you are adequately prepared for an academic career. This could especially apply to those people who are changing careers or those who have decided on academia late in their training. For example, if you need more publication or teaching experience, you may acquire it by teaching as an adjunct, getting help in writing and submitting articles for publication, or teaming up with someone to write jointly. This type of experience can often make you more competitive. A good mentor/advisor can be invaluable in this process.
Sometimes, people decide to seek a position in an academic setting after working in some other setting for several years. For instance, you may have worked in a clinic, hospital, or organization where you functioned as a clinician, administrator, or director of training, doing some writing and research activity or occasional teaching. Although entering a career in academia involves addressing the particular requirements of this career path (research, publications, teaching experience), previous experiences can also be an asset to the academic department. It is important to frame the descriptions of previous experiences so that the department will recognize your potential contributions. A mentor/advisor can be very helpful in this process.
Each college or university has its own set of written rules governing many aspects of academic life. There are also unwritten rules that, together with the written ones, constitute the culture of the institution. Criteria for tenure and promotion are often not explicit or clear, and there may be unwritten rules which are not uniformly applied across all units (Ross, 1987). As a new member of the community, one of the most important tasks you face is determining not only what the rules are, but also how they are applied. The application of rules is as important as the rules themselves. Also, understanding political aspects of decision making in your department, which are not openly discussed is valuable to your success.
The decisions regarding faculty life in your department will have both intellectual and political components. If you think about the decisions surrounding your own dissertation and the composition of your dissertation committee, you get a sense of the kinds of issues that will operate in your hiring and subsequent promotion and tenure processes.
Some of the discussion to follow describes the most demanding criteria for promotion and tenure-those commonly found at research universities. As suggested in Part I, you should identify the criteria you will be facing. Although almost all academic institutions consider teaching, research, and service as criteria for promotion and tenure, institutions vary widely in the importance they place on each category. Teaching is not considered by most research universities to be the most important work, and often tuition produces less income than research dollars. In such institutions, faculty who have demonstrated excellence in teaching, but have published little may be denied tenure, promotion, and merit pay. Thus, you will have to concern yourself with doing all three of these things proficiently and allocating time and effort in proportion to the priorities of the department within your institution.
In addition to your performance in these three areas, all departments are concerned with the issue of fit. Fit is the degree to which your contributions in the areas of research, teaching, and service are central to the needs of the department. While fit has always been a criterion for hiring, some institutions have recently started to place it overtly in the list of criteria for promotion and tenure. A component of fit which is often unstated but which plays a part in decisions is collegiality. While Webster defines collegial as "marked by power or authority vested equally in each of a number of colleagues," collegial has taken on another meaning that has more to do with the judgment of colleagues that both you and your work are in harmony with the department's needs. Definitions of collegial behavior are idiosyncratic, however, so the same behavior may have different implications for different individuals within a department. In addition, colleagues may replicate the behavior of managers in nonacademic settings. According to Landau (1995), both race and gender are related to managers' ratings of promotion potential, even when controlling for age, education, tenure, salary grade, functional area, and satisfaction with career support. Females are rated lower than males, and African Americans and Asian Americans are rated lower than Whites. Landau found no interaction effects, indicating that the effects for race and gender had additive effects for ethnic minority women.
The expectations for collegiality are defined by the general climate of the department. For example, departments with an active social life may demand more contacts beyond the work setting than those in which such relations do not occur. Collegiality is one aspect of your performance in which the informal rules that set the climate of your department are very important.
Once you have accepted a position at an institution, you will find the following strategies for promotion and tenure helpful. The strategies will be broken into six parts: Information and Resources, Teaching, Research and Publishing, Service Commitments, Relationships, and Evaluations.
The academy lives by information and by the recording of it. You will have to become knowledgeable of the written policies, be aware of unwritten rules, and keep detailed records of your own work with these policies and rules in mind. Finally, you must secure the resources to enable you to do your work.
1. Know the written policies
Obtain a copy of your institution's or university's written policies on promotion and tenure and discuss the interpretation of these policies with senior colleagues whom you trust. Their opinions regarding which criteria are the most important can be valuable. Have these discussions early and often after you arrive at your institution (Gibbons, 1986).
2. Learn the unwritten rules
There are many ways to learn unwritten rules. To obtain different perspectives, you must obtain information from a number of different sources. Attending faculty meetings allows you to observe who leads discussions, who presents alternatives that are supported by the majority of the faculty, and to whom the Chairperson turns for opinions on particular types of issues. Your presence in the faculty meetings also makes you visible to colleagues with whom you may not interact during the daily course of your work.
Each department has ways of socializing in the context of the daily routine, sometimes in the mailroom, at the coffee shop, or over lunch. Nonfaculty senior staff in your department are sometimes part of this socializing and could be helpful in providing information and support. Be sure that you participate in social activities and use these opportunities to find out what is of concern to your colleagues. In some departments, opportunities for socializing may be limited in number, or individuals may create an unwelcoming feeling among those who are not part of the inside group.
3. Keep track of achievements and accomplishments
Most faculty members keep track of achievements in their c.v., which they update at least once per year. However, it is easy to overlook or forget about presentations, research, and mentoring activities that, by themselves, may not seem of great importance, but can add up to a significant contribution to your department, university, or field of expertise. To document your achievements as fully as possible, keep notes, a log, or a diary of all academic and professional activities and folders with copies of your publications and syllabi, as well as newspaper and magazine credits, awards, commendations, acknowledgments, and so forth. You can use these as reminders when you update your c.v. Written documentation of performance in teaching, research, and service is clearly important to managing an academic career (Masagatani& Grant, 1986).
It is recommended that the c.v. be written with a word processing program so that the file can be updated frequently. In that way, it is possible to include achievements as they occur and it is less likely that important material will be omitted. In addition, it is a good idea to keep private backup copies of the c.v., both in electronic and printed formats, away from the academic setting.
A key strategy to maximize your success in the promotion and tenure process is to have your work serve double or triple duty across the academic areas of teaching, research, and service. For instance, your course preparation could help you develop the literature review for grant development or publication and vice versa. Serving on committees could produce publications and collaborations for innovative teaching, with acquisition of educational grants that you can list on your vita or use to respond to performance evaluations. Becoming a thesis or dissertation chair for students whose work most closely relates to your own research interests will also facilitate productivity. Remember, the demands on ethnic minority and female faculty are multiple. Having whatever you do serve dual or triple purposes lessens your stress and maximizes the time you can spend on things that count to your advantage.
4. Be attentive to resource allocation
Access to laboratory space, equipment, and graduate research assistants is instrumental in productivity and chances for success. These are scarce commodities in many departments and thus can be a source of competition. Another often-overlooked resource is the kind of courses assigned to faculty members. Pay attention to how courses, seminars, and practica are assigned or rotated among faculty. Do not be content with the idea that resources, including space, staff, and courses, will be allocated to you if you patiently wait. In academia, as in other competitive environments, it is often "the squeaky wheel that gets greased." If you are not treated equitably with regard to these resources, discuss this with your chairperson.
5. Strive for extramural funding
Many institutions expect faculty members to compete for external funding to support research and special activities, such as conferences. This does not mean that you must secure grant funds to qualify for promotion or tenure. However, it may be important to demonstrate your commitment to that goal. You can accomplish this by discussing with department colleagues and your chairperson possible sources of funding and your plans for submitting proposals for outside grants and seed money available from your institution.
You increase your chances for success in obtaining external funding if you and/or your work are visible. Publishing is one way to make yourself visible; attending conferences and meeting funders is also helpful. Make appointments to meet the grant program officers in your area of expertise and visit the headquarters of the funding agencies. If possible, have someone introduce you to these individuals. Be aware of procedural differences between federal governmental agencies, internal institutional sources, and foundations. Many faculty members see foundation support as providing the seed money that will allow them to compete for larger federal grants.
Most effective and ultimately successful proposals do not get funded in the first go round, so do not be discouraged. Use the feedback you receive to strengthen the proposal and resubmit it. Although more men than women apply for external funds, women are as likely as men to obtain grants (Sigelman& Scioli, 1986). If your institution offers a grant writing seminar, attending one may be helpful (also see Steinberg& Kennedy, 1991).
An uninformed or poorly prepared assistant professor seeking grant support may experience deleterious career consequences. Pursuing external funds, especially for someone without a track record, requires much work and often multiple submissions. It is not unusual for first-time investigators to spend 2 years or more pursuing their first funding. Once the investigator gets funded, it may take 6 to 9 months to receive the award. This amount of time is significant when considered in the context of the overall amount of time the actual research will take, and the time to publish the results. You should consider the impact such a timeframe may have on your tenure or promotion aspirations.
Many research institutions offer internal funds for the purpose of initiating research and securing outside grant funds. The institutional office of research will often have information regarding these funds. If there is no such office, this information may be available through the department or college. Many institutions also provide incentive programs where internal seed money is made available with the understanding that the researcher will develop an outside proposal within a specified period of time. These funds can be used to conduct pilot research, which is often helpful in securing larger outside grant monies.
Following are some suggestions that can make the process of obtaining external funding more successful:
a. Target foundations and internal insitutional monies as your first source of grant funding. Foundation funding can be easier to obtain, and the response time is quicker. Note that some foundations require matching funds, and that many foundations pay very little or no overhead.
b. Rather than designing your own research project, consider:
(1) Secondary analysis of an existing database. This may not produce as large a grant, but the timetable would be considerably shorter for resultant products from your funded project.
(2) Collaborating with an investigator on an existing grant. Specialized funds are sometimes available for supplements (e.g., minority supplements). If you collaborate with a senior investigator, the advantages can be immense: (a) funds for the data collection, processing, and sometimes analysis exist in a grant award; and (b) his/her reputation will enhance your chances of getting your part of the grant funded.
However, it is not always easy to find collaborators willing to share their resources. If you identify someone willing to work with you, make sure you spend enough time communicating about your working styles, expectations, and so forth. You will need to have a specific agreement regarding the publication of data from the senior investigator's project, including such details as whether he or she expects to be the first author listed in the credits (this is still true in some circles), even if you do all the work! Also, you will need an agreement about pursuit of external funds and who would be credited as the principal investigator for any spinoff study.
c. Explore funding on a smaller scale. State and local foundation and government sources of funding may be quicker to obtain and may require less detailed documentation. Specialized grant searches may be obtained from your university's grants office. Communication with the grants office about your research interests will alert them to possible grant announcements in your area and possible campus collaborators for research grant initiatives.
University seed money grants, state and local foundations, and federal sources of research money, faculty development grants, Minority Access to Research/Careers (MARC), and research supplements for minority investigators seeking research support (i.e., packet of NIH Minority programs and other programs of special interest and World Wide Web sources for latest program announcements) are other sources of funding. Many minority programs to enhance research careers of minority populations are seeking applicants that span the entire biomedical/behavioral science career ladder, from high school to visiting scientists and faculty fellowships levels. Federal funding sources often have specialized mechanisms available for investigators to get started on independent research on a smaller scale, such as Small Grant Awards, FIRST Awards, specialized awards for clinicians turning to research, and the like. However, the process for accessing these funding mechanisms can be just as competitive and slow as the traditional process. You should consult with senior colleagues and research development people at your university, as well as program officers at the funding source.
d. Recognize that your grant research application can lead to publication. When you do submit a grant application, be sure to think about how your research and writing to prepare for the grant application may be turned into publications and presentations. For example, in a relatively undeveloped area, the literature review for your grant could become the basis for a published article. Pilot work undertaken in preparation for the grant application could also be documented for publication, as long as particular requirements are met, such as sample size. This is especially true if you are experimenting with a new technique, working with a hard to reach population, etc.
Overall, the best advice in seeking out and applying for external funding is to plan carefully throughout the process. Think about what you want to do, where you will seek funding, the amount of effort you will need to invest, how large a study you want to undertake, etc. In addition, be creative in seeking out funding sources, research opportunities with existing data and/or other investigators, and ways to turn your grant-related products into publications or other scholarly activity.
Teaching has always been central to the expectations of faculty at small liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and teaching universities. In recent years, teaching has also become more important at research institutions. The type and number of courses you teach, the proficiency with which you teach them, and the number of students that you advise are the components used to evaluate your teaching.
Under ideal circumstances, the courses you teach will be closely related to your research expertise. However, this is not the most common situation in most departments. More typically, you will have courses that are closely aligned with your research expertise, and you may have to teach service courses for the department and university. Thus, your teaching load and the teaching course mix determines how much overlap there will be across teaching and research expertise. For example, if all the courses you teach are not related to your research interests, teaching these courses will exact a heavier burden than if all courses were directly related to your research expertise (i.e., reading two areas of empirical literature versus reading only one body of literature for course preparation and research/grant preparation).
You should negotiate and renegotiate teaching loads and course assignments so that you will be able to teach most of the same courses for several years and, thus, minimize new preparations. Typically, new course preparations for untenured faculty members during their first 3 years in academia can be overwhelming and monopolize time that should be spent on research projects and grants.
2. Student advisees
In all departments you will be expected to advise students. The kind of advising that is expected depends on the institution. In research institutions (which typically focus on graduate education), your advising will probably be limited to theses (senior or honors undergraduate and master's) and dissertations (doctoral). You may also be expected to advise undergraduate psychology majors on their courses of study. Appointment to departmental faculty does not automatically translate into an appointment to graduate faculty (which allows you to sit on graduate students' committees and/or be a major advisor to a graduate student). Clarify this, then seek such appointment if you did not negotiate this at the time of your hiring.
In 4-year institutions, student advising will be more focused on undergraduate programs of study advising and helping to prepare students for graduate or professional study. Faculty may also have the opportunity to advise senior or honors theses.
In 2-year programs at community/junior colleges, the focus is primarily on helping to prepare students for transfer to a 4-year institution. Advisors will be expected to help students prepare academically as well as to negotiate the application and transfer process. As many nontraditional students often attend a 2-year institution first, advising may also emphasize helping returning students re-orient to the academic environment and refine their time-management skills.
If you are the only woman and/or ethnic minority in your department or area, you will likely be sought out by many women and ethnic minority students for mentoring, advice, and emotional support. These activities can be rewarding because, just as you needed mentoring by someone more experienced, so do the many women and ethnic minority students who are likely to seek you out.
Many women and ethnic minority faculty feel a strong desire to meet these expectations because of needs they reflect. Such commitments can, however, be a quagmire, because too much committee work and student advising will likely impair your teaching preparation and research productivity. In some departments your peers will expect you to serve all students, and your attention to either women or ethnic minorities will be seen as a disservice to other students. In other departments, you will be expected to serve only or mostly women or ethnic minority students. If such departments marginalize these same students, your involvement with them will marginalize you as well. In either case, time that you commit to unacknowledged mentoring is time that is not spent on activities that would bring you closer to tenure or promotion. You must confront this conflict directly and work out an appropriate solution. Discussion regarding this issue with your own mentor(s) will be helpful.
3. Teaching evaluations
Variations in emphasis on teaching versus research may exist within the same university. Studies have shown that even when both teaching and research are considered important, success in research is often given a greater emphasis during tenure and promotion evaluations (Kasten, 1984).
Many institutions use student teaching evaluations as part of any promotion decision. Teaching evaluations provide useful information for course improvement. Even if not heavily weighted, negative teaching ratings may hurt your chances of promotion and tenure. Excellent student evaluations, however, will not be sufficient in and of themselves for gaining tenure. Many universities require untenured faculty members to evaluate every course they teach.
One recommended strategy is to have teaching evaluations by peers and students in the middle of the semester so that you can address any deficiencies before a final evaluation (Gibbons, 1986). Seek early evaluations of your performance, preferably after the first year, but no later than the second. You should conduct evaluations yearly to keep informed about your status. Be aware of the research that addresses the biases related to gender (Basow, etc., Langbein, 1996) and grading patterns (Greenwald, 1996) that affect student evaluation results. Similar research is not available about biases toward ethnic minority faculty.
Anecdotal reports from ethnic minority and women faculty members indicate that students sometimes react to these faculty with expectations of less competency. As ethnic minority and women faculty are often the ones that integrate the most diversity material into the course work, some have found that students who fail to understand diversity feel that too much attention is paid to these issues. This may be reflected in student evaluations of courses. It is important that students be encouraged to include written comments on evaluation forms. In this way, if course evaluations are low, and the student indicates that this is because of the inclusion of too much diversity material, the faculty member can address the ratings in annual faculty evaluations and promotion and tenure packets.
One advantage of having both peer and student evaluations is that peer evaluations may counterbalance negative student evaluations and vice versa. If available, peer evaluations can be particularly useful for obtaining feedback on your teaching from colleagues with special expertise in presentation skills (e.g., experts in speech and communication or in education and learning).
The ultimate evidence and validation of your scholarship comes when it is published. Part of your success as an academician will depend on how well you recognize when you have enough to say in a publishable form, what outlets you choose for publishing, how often you publish, and how you deal with the rejection inherent in the publishing process.
1. Choice of research area
Although changing priorities at federal funding agencies (NIMH, NSF, NIH, etc.) have made research on ethnic minority populations and women more desirable, many academic institutions tend to be conservative and value traditional areas and methods of research. In such institutions, research on women's issues or ethnic minority issues is often viewed pejoratively as nonmainstream or marginal and may be either devalued or discouraged (Sandler & Hall, 1986).
According to Taylor and Raeburn (1995), there are career consequences for activism in high risk areas. For instance, openly gay sociologists who challenge stigmatization, promotion of unequal treatment of disenfranchised groups, and/or who conduct research on diversity issues face personal discrimination in hiring, bias in tenure and promotion, are excluded from social and professional networks, and are harassed or intimidated with systematic devaluation of scholarly work on gay topics.
Others' lack of recognition for your work can be a source of disappointment and frustration. The problem particularly affects women and ethnic minorities because they are the faculty most often interested in pursuing research in nonmainstream areas. The term "double whammy" applies here because research in a nonmainstream area is less likely to be seen as important, and, at the same time, leaves a person more open to being perceived as "biased and lacking scientific objectivity" (i.e., as "having an ax to grind").
Discuss your research interests with your department chairperson and other senior colleagues. If you perceive that the importance of your work might be misunderstood or undervalued, seek opportunities to inform others of its relevance and significance. Present your work in and out of your department or institution at conferences, seminars, or forums that will expose you to people with similar interests. These individuals may become collaborators in research and/or can serve as a broad-based system of support outside your department. They should become familiar enough with your work to be able to provide strong positive evaluations. If possible, work with individuals with strong reputations so that their opinions are more likely to outweigh any prejudicial judgements.
Some scholars maintain two areas of research, one mainstream and one nonmainstream. This can be difficult because you might then be expected to be an expert in two distinct areas, and your record in the mainstream area may be compared with the records of researchers who have devoted all of their time and energy to this one area. An alternative strategy is to research topics that may be considered outside of the mainstream, but frame the topics within solidly mainstream methodologies and/or theories.
2. Publishing steadily
Beginning researchers should publish as many pieces from their dissertation as they can. There is evidence that this is one of the best predictors of success in publishing. With many things to do each week, making time for writing is difficult. You can structure your time so that every week you work on some aspect of a manuscript. If you have structured your teaching so that it supports your research, most of the work you do for teaching will also serve this purpose. But you must also dedicate a certain amount of time each week during the school year to advancing the start of new research, writing, and publishing. Saving this time and considering it as untouchable as your teaching time is one of the most important work habits you can develop. Suinn and Witt (1982) and Suinn (1996) determined that insufficient time devoted to research activity, research writing, and data collection activities comprised the leading obstacles to tenure. Form or join a writing group. In this group (usually five to six people) each member brings work in progress to be critiqued. This process helps you to clarify ideas, gain access to a broader set of references, and keep you on track with your writing.
3. Publishing carefully
Not all journals are held in equal regard. Make every effort to publish your research in the most respected journals in your area. Here again, soliciting colleagues' opinions about the various outlets for your work and the type of research activities you are expected to pursue is useful. For example, many departments do not consider textbook writing as research and, even if valued, expect it to come only after demonstrated success at publishing empirical research in peer reviewed journals. Furthermore, an article published in a mainstream journal will likely be valued more highly than the same article published in a women's studies or ethnic studies journal (Sandler& Hall, 1986). At times you may have to weigh the most appropriate audience against the most valued publication outlet for your department.
Some scholars decide to submit articles only to mainstream journals. Others publish in both mainstream and nonmainstream journals, but often the choice is not one over which the researcher has control. Just as it is more difficult to get peer recognition for research on women's issues or ethnic minority issues, it is often more difficult to get this research published in the most prestigious and mainstream journals.
The important point is that publishing in journals that seem obscure to your department may make your tenure and promotion more difficult to achieve because your department may not know how to value your work. If the outlets for your work are mostly nonmainstream journals, one strategy is to inform your colleagues of the worth of the journals by calling attention to studies of high quality that are published in them, noting which citation indices include them, etc. High numbers of citations of your published articles by others (as shown in Citation Index volumes) can attest to the importance of your work.
4. Learning to handle rejection
Most manuscripts are rejected, often multiple times, before publication. Most academicians experience such failure and rejection. You should not take criticism as a personal attack, indeed, doing so may undermine your chances of success (Stake, 1986). Instead, use the feedback you receive in a constructive manner to revise the manuscript and resubmit it. If the rejection feedback makes resubmission possible, resubmit as soon as possible. If the rejection feedback suggests a new venue, make the suggested changes and send the manuscript to a new outlet.
Not all review suggestions are equally useful. Some may reflect the preferences of a particular journal reviewer. If there is no possibility of resubmission to that journal, you may be better off incorporating immediately the suggestions you deem appropriate and resubmitting your revised manuscript to a new outlet without further delay. If you perceive the reviews of your manuscript contain sexist or racist assumptions or in other ways seem to be systematically biased against your research, it is appropriate to tell the journal editor of your concerns. Often, if your concerns sound legitimate, the editor will secure another review.
5. Diversity presentations
Young scholars with expertise in diversity topics may be sought after to give conference presentations, consult, or otherwise participate in work on diversity issues. In some cases, the expertise may simply be the result of being a woman or a person of color in one's field. While these requests may be quite validating and personally rewarding, they can be quite demanding in terms of preparation and travel time. It is important to not let these requests consume too much time that might otherwise be devoted to research and publishing.
Women and ethnic minorities are often placed in a double bind with regard to service activities. As noted by Sandler and Hall (1986), service expectations are not the same for women and ethnic minorities as they are for White men. Double standards exist for women and ethnic minorities-the activities they are often expected to take part in, committee responsibilities, the advising and mentoring of students, expectations about developing diversity curriculum-do not receive much credit relative to the effort they require.
These types of activities-service activities-typically carry only minimal weight in promotion and tenure decisions (Rose, 1986). Committee work and advising, however, are essential to the success of any academic institution. Thus, you will have to weigh how important mentoring and committee service are to you against the relatively low weight that these activities are usually given in the tenure and promotion process.
Gibbons (1986) suggests that you should be selective and focus on important academic committees that will offer visibility with prominent campus personnel.
Young faculty can easily become overly involved with departmental and university service activities. Their involvement, in turn, can detract from their effectiveness in research and teaching (Suinn& Witt, 1982). In the case of women or minorities, if you are the only woman or ethnic minority faculty member in a department, you may be asked to be a faculty advisor for relevant student organizations and to serve on many committees, including committees relating to women and ethnic minorities. According to Aguirre (1987), Hispanic faculty participated more in minority-oriented service committees than on university-oriented service committees.
When making a decision about committee work, it is important to "factor in" whether you will experience prejudicial judgments from others. Your over-involvement in committees may be perceived as demonstrating a lack of commitment to the more approved activities of research and teaching, but turning down committee appointments may be perceived as irresponsible behavior.
If you are asked to serve on more committees than what you have learned through your discussions and research to be normal for faculty in your department, you have several alternatives: (a) You can ask that your load be reduced; (b) if it is absolutely vital to the chairperson that you serve on one or more committees, you can ask for a written acknowledgment of your contribution to university service (such a statement will give added weight to counting this service as a contribution when it comes time for promotion); or (c) you can negotiate for a lighter load of committee work next year to compensate for the heavier load in the current year.
You may also be asked to serve on committees at the state, regional, and national level (e.g., APA, journal reviews, national review, or advisory panels, etc.). These opportunities can be excellent ways to make contacts, get exposure to the field outside the academic environment, build relationships to help with research, and may provide a great deal of personal support as well. Particularly if there are very few women or ethnic minority faculty members in your department, people met through outside service can become part of a professional community. Such a community can be a very important contribution to thriving in the institution. However, it is still important to make sure you do not become overloaded with committee work. The same considerations apply for outside committee work as were set out above for institutional committee work (and keep in mind to also add travel time). You should carefully consider if the benefits of a particular committee outweigh the time it will take away from other required activities.
People in and out of your department will be an essential part of your success. Colleagues, students, and staff are all part of the culture in which you do your daily work. Good working relations with all of them are essential for collegiality, networking, and mentoring purposes. Solid relationships are necessary for personal support and good health. Should problems of stereotypes or harassment occur, you must be ready to address them while preserving as much of your support group's integrity as possible. It is important to include good health care as part of your support system. Develop a good relationship with a physician and keep appointments for regular checkups. Work with your physician on formulating a good fitness plan that fits your lifestyle.
1. Working relations in your department
Establishing good working relationships with other members of your department is easier in departments that are very collegial and more difficult in those that are less so. Often, one of the informal requirements for tenure is being "liked" by one's colleagues (Gibbons, 1986). Although it would be ideal if established department members made newcomers feel at home, the reality is that most departments place that burden on newcomers who must prove themselves and secure an integrated position within the department.
What this entails depends on the particular institution, but forming strategic alliances (i.e., knowing where the power lies) and maintaining cordial relationships with the tenured faculty are often important.
Collaboration in research can be a successful way to achieve informal and formal recognition and acceptance. Collaboration has its pitfalls, however. For example, those you collaborate with may not fulfill their responsibilities. In addition, there is the possibility that the research, especially if done with a senior colleague, will be viewed as more his or hers than yours. In collaborating, secure some publications in which you are the first author.
Another approach is to cultivate relationships with powerful university figures outside your department. At the time of your tenure or promotion, these individuals may be an important source of support and may be instrumental in creating the expectation among your colleagues that you deserve tenure.
Bear in mind, however, that there are some environments in which it is difficult, if not impossible, to establish collegiality no matter how hard you try. If you find yourself in such a situation, do not blame yourself. Although you may be able to inform the department chair or some supportive faculty of sexism or racism that is disrupting relationships, you should be realistic about the chances of initiating change in such an environment. There are times when a woman or a member of an ethnic minority group faces a dilemma between the need to speak out and the fear of alienating the established powers in the department. One of the illogical and unwritten rules of the current system is that women and ethnic minorities are expected to cultivate collegiality at the same time that they are excluded from gaining such acceptance (Sandler& Hall, 1986).
2. Build a professional network
You should attempt to become part of or build a network among investigators working in your research area. This is a good way to get your work recognized by others, to keep abreast of new developments, and to receive early feedback about the quality of your work. This will also help you build your professional reputation. Although there are many ways to build a network, one approach is to present your research and attend presentations in your area at national and regional conferences (Rose, 1986).
The network will often be composed of individuals outside your department and will usually be an excellent source of advice, expertise, praise, and collaboration that may be lacking among departmental colleagues. Such support is especially helpful to women in male-dominated departments and ethnic minorities in White-dominated departments, given that they are at times excluded from the informal activities that give people a sense of professional belonging. Members of your network may be able to support your application for tenure and promotion with letters documenting the importance of your research.
3. Find mentors
Some universities have established an official "mentors committee" for each junior faculty member. These committees fulfill the functions that mentors usually serve of providing information encouragement and advocacy.
Ragins (1995) argues that diversified mentoring can counteract reduced opportunities for women and ethnic minority faculty. A variety of mentors from the senior faculty ranks can lessen the cultural, structural, and behavioral factors that reduce promotion and tenure opportunities and decrease exclusionary power commonly found in organizations.
Universities should recognize that cross- and same-ethnicity and/or gender mentoring offers advantages and challenges for retaining ethnic minority and female faculty (Brinson& Kottler, 1993). You need to be aware that not being of the same ethnicity and/or gender should not be used as an excuse to refrain from offering or receiving mentoring. There can be mutual benefits for the mentor and protg in such relationships (Atkinson, Neville,& Casas, 1991). Seeking allies and mentors from among tenured faculty who are diverse strengthens retention and promotion of junior faculty. Be aware of the research that shows that while women have mentoring relationships that focus upon intimacy and informality to foster friendships (Kalbfleisch & Keyton, 1995), men use mentoring relationships to advance their careers. These differences may have implications for career advancement.
4. Staff and graduate students
Productive, constructive, and healthy relationships with staff and graduate students can be a source of mutual support and satisfaction. Different people have different roles and different types of information that can be useful to you. In large departments, staff control many resources and may have long institutional memories that can give a different perspective of issues of concern to you.
However, you should be cautious of developing these relationships at the expense of developing relationships with other faculty. Although in a "chilly" academic environment, staff and graduate students may be the only ones to make themselves available, having primary relationships of this type can lead colleagues to perceive you as less of a professional.
This does not mean that you should not have cordial relationships with staff members or form academic relationships with, pursue joint research interests with, or serve as a mentor to graduate students. You should not, however, substitute these relationships for good collegial relationships with other faculty members, and, thereby, risk being seen as less professional.
5. Stereotypical role expectations
As in every part of society, many people in academia, faculty members and students alike, hold stereotypical role expectations based on gender, ethnicity, race, national origin, and all the other socially constructed identities of our culture. If you are a woman, you may be expected to take minutes at meetings, serve coffee, be a warm and affiliative person, and be less interested in research than your male colleagues (for a more extensive listing of subtle and not-so-subtle harmful expectations, see Sandler& Hall, 1986). If you are an ethnic minority, you may be expected to like certain kinds of music, prepare certain kinds of food, and to match any other beliefs about your particular ethnic group prevalent in your region. You can also expect a great amount of ignorance about your ethnic group.
If you find such expectations placed on you by members of your department, discuss the situation with senior faculty members, your department chairperson, and/or dean. Before talking to the ombudsman or the Affirmative Action officer of your institution, check to see if doing so will commit you to lodging a formal complaint. In some localities, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) branch or your institution's AAUW representative can be helpful. Advice about handling such stereotypes can also be obtained from the university's women's caucus, committee on women, or diversity committee if your institution has such groups.
As mentioned earlier in the section on teaching, there is also evidence of how a faculty member's gender and ethnicity can negatively affect the results of student evaluations. There is not much recourse against this type of bias, except to educate members of the faculty who vote on tenure about these issues.
6. Sexual and racial harassment
Some women faculty experience harassment from students, other faculty, or administrators. Sexual harassment is illegal; it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendment.
You should obtain a copy of your university's policy on sexual harassment, if it has one. It will delineate the procedures for filing a sexual harassment grievance and identify who in the university is responsible for implementing the policy. You should also obtain your state or county's information pamphlet on sexual harassment. It will list your rights and the liabilities of those who harass you and those who know about such harassment.
If you feel that you are being sexually harassed, begin to document in writing everything that has happened and seek out the advice of the affirmative action officer or another appropriate university official. Seek legal advice immediately. Do not assume the problem will just go away, that the institution will handle it for you, or that you caused the harassment to occur. (For more extensive information, refer to Sexual Harassment: Research and Resources, Siegel, 1991; Sexual Harassment on College Campuses: Abusing the Ivory Power, 1990, and the two special issues of Initiatives, 1996, Vols. 3, 57.)
More likely than not, your university does not have a specific policy regarding racial harassment, as racial harassment does not have the same legal standing as sexual harassment. Nevertheless, should you feel that you are a victim of racial/cultural harassment (behaviors that a reasonable person of color would find offensive), you are probably well advised to follow the previously stated advice for sexual harassment: document and seek advice from university officials and a lawyer.
Just as students can affect their grades by keeping close tabs on their performance and comparing their notes against teachers' evaluations, faculty members can manage the evaluation of their work in a manner that increases their ability to influence the process. If you keep a complete and accurate vita, ask for evaluations at every step of the way, take a realistic approach to the review process, and respond to evaluation feedback received, you can increase your chances of identifying problems early enough to avoid a negative decision at a terminal point, such as the tenure decision. In most institutions, the vote of the departmental chair is crucial to the final outcome. Therefore, keeping your chair informed of your progress at every point is important. If the chair does not call for annual meetings with you, you should request them and be ready to chronicle your contributions for the past year in each of the areas in which you will ultimately be evaluated.
1. The vita as the basis for your evaluation
When the time comes to prepare your documents for tenure and/or promotion, you need to have a complete, written, and accurate record of your accomplishments. Keeping careful track of achievements and accomplishments and updating your vita to reflect them will enable you to use your vita as the basis for your tenure or promotion file. "A clear and precise vita is of utmost importance, especially when it is to be read by others not in the discipline or in a related field and when it is used in a reappointment, tenure, and/or promotion review...Your curriculum vita is a document of advocacy" (Butler, 1996).
You should review the file of someone who was recently promoted or tenured as an example of how to organize the materials. Some departments keep promotion or tenure files available for review. If this is not the case at your institution, find out who is the most recently promoted or tenured professor and ask him or her if he or she will share the information with you. In some (usually smaller) institutions, untenured faculty may have the opportunity to sit on promotion and tenure committees even prior to their own promotion and/or tenure. If you have the opportunity to participate on such a committee, you can gain a great deal of valuable information about how the process works. This will be very helpful when the time comes to prepare your own promotion and tenure materials. Preparing a complete and professional file is a valuable step toward the successful outcome of your review.
A file that tells a cohesive story of your work is powerful. Descriptions of your work should be presented in such a way that the various parts can be seen as building upon one another. If your teaching, research, and service are related, you can show the building process easily. If not, you must provide a coherent view of how seemingly disparate pieces may reflect a larger theoretical interest or perhaps a change in the direction of your work.
2. Early and regular evaluations
Early and regular reviews of every aspect of your performance affecting your chances for tenure or promotion will give you multiple opportunities to respond to any negative reviews. In preparing for such reviews, keep a running record of your activities rather than waiting until it is time for the review to reconstruct a year or more of activity. Ask to be given a written evaluation after each review. If a review is negative, decide which aspects reflect legitimate weaknesses and which are inaccurate. Both should be addressed. You should discuss the valid points with your department chairperson, and the two of you should jointly develop a written plan to ameliorate weaknesses. You must also take responsibility for challenging any unfounded criticisms. Provide written materials to refute negative points and substantiate how they are erroneous (for additional suggestions, see Quina, 1986).
Be wary of performance evaluations deemed "administrative" or "bureaucratic" during which you are told that you need not be concerned about low ratings because they will not affect your chances for tenure or promotion. Not only may this not be the case, but also any evaluation could serve as a vehicle for assessing and improving your functioning as a faculty member. Therefore, the feedback you receive should be specific enough to address in behavioral terms, and you should consider it relevant to your success as a member of the faculty.
3. Maintaining a realistic approach to the review process
The annual review and review for tenure and promotion are anxiety provoking for most faculty. You should view the annual review as an opportunity for you and your departmental allies/supporters to illustrate and document your strengths on a regular basis. It is far easier to counteract negative misperceptions of a faculty member early in the tenure process, rather than during the last 2 years before applying for tenure. Keep written documentation of this annual review in a file for future reference in developing a tenure packet.
The faculty review process is not the time for reticence or modesty about accomplishments. Although it may be difficult for some women and ethnic minorities to highlight directly their own accomplishments, self-effacement can affect how colleagues evaluate your successes and failures. Do not hide your achievements and be sure to communicate how your accomplishments have contributed to the field, your department, and university. There is a delicate balance between sounding too brash and boastful versus merely conveying strengths. Unfortunately, cultural stereotypes may produce a different perception of the same behavior when exhibited by women and minorities versus White males.
Know what the process of solicitation and selection of expert peer reviewers for your promotion and tenure application may be. Your external peer reviews are a significant part of your evaluation. While the department will ask outside reviewers to write letters evaluating your candidacy, you can secure letters from reputable scholars who know your work. It is wise to ask these potential letter writers in advance about their willingness to respond to a request from your department. The more respected the person writing the letter is, the more credence will usually be given to his or her input. In addition, it is essential that these external references address your strengths from as wide and firm a base as possible while keeping in mind issues of fit and departmental mission.
Academia is highly competitive. To have any chance of success, you must forge an identity that is strongly work-focused. This leads to a close connection among work, personal identity, and feelings of self-worth. Being denied tenure is a major, stressful life event that is often seen as a public statement of lack of worth. A negative tenure outcome can precipitate a period of intense confusion and distress. If you find yourself in this situation, you must decide whether to make the difficult and painful transition from trying to join to trying to fight the establishment. Stress studies have identified various types of coping strategies. One is problem-focused coping, in which an individual confronts the problem to ameliorate it and thereby reduces distress (Folkman & Lazarus, 1988). Another type is emotion-focused coping, in which an individual alleviates stress by concentrating on controlling his or her emotional reactions (Folkman& Lazarus, 1988).
Problem-focused coping would include behavioral responses such as requesting a reconsideration of the tenure decision at the department level, appealing a negative department decision at the university level, filing a grievance or complaint with the university's Equal Employment Opportunity officer, or taking legal action. The central aim of emotion-focused coping is to help you handle a stressful event in a way that reduces emotional distress. In a tenure or promotion situation, emotion-focused coping could include a cognitive reappraisal of the worth of the appointment and the department or university. Seeking emotional support by sharing one's feelings about the situation with a confidant is another way to reduce distress. Counseling with an individual knowledgeable about academic, gender and/or racial issues may also be of help.
In most circumstances, you should use several mutually beneficial types of coping strategies to help reduce stress. For example, taking direct action to address the problem may help reduce emotional upset, and conversely, trying to control emotional responses may make it easier to initiate direct actions. The following section presents ways to cope when one is denied promotion or tenure. Guidelines for problem-focused coping responses are provided in Part IV: Facing Adversity Functionally.
The discrimination, rejection, alienation, exclusion, and devaluation that are central aspects of a negative tenure outcome can readily precipitate an array of distressing symptoms and feelings. Shock and disbelief are common reactions. This is particularly true when a negative tenure decision is completely unexpected, as when it occurs at the department level in a situation in which the tenure applicant has received no prior feedback indicating dissatisfaction with his or her performance.
As shock and disbelief subside, you may experience a deep sense of betrayal and outrage. These often vacillate with equally strong feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness. Both types of feelings are common reactions to such an event. Other frequently encountered reactions include anxiety, panic, depression, helplessness, difficulty concentrating, and various somatic disturbances (Hamilton, Alagna, King,& Lloyd, 1987). Reactions are likely to be more intense when the rejection occurs at the departmental level among one's colleagues than when there is strong departmental support but a negative decision at a higher level. Feeling overwhelmed by stress is a normal response. Furthermore, not feeling in control of your emotions or behavior should not be construed as validation of the negative evaluation you have received.
Many who decide to take a functional approach by fighting the denial of their tenure find themselves obsessed with the details of both the criticisms raised against them and their points of rebuttal. Given the fact that most academicians have excelled in their lives through somewhat compulsive application of cognitive skills, it is not surprising that under stress this may distort into obsession and rumination. Getting the data together to fight the decision may help you feel more in control.
Most individuals in the Western culture are socialized to believe that to a large extent they are in control of and responsible for their destiny. This type of individualistic mentality does not give sufficient recognition or respect to systemic and situational factors that may determine what happens in a particular circumstance, nor does it consider the powerful impact of sexism, heterosexism, racism, and oppression that exist within the dominant culture, including academia. Although occasional feelings of self-blame and responsibility are probably unavoidable in the face of rejection for tenure or promotion, you need to be on guard that the normal tendency to ask "Why has this happened?" does not result in blaming yourself excessively.
The propensity to blame yourself may stem from the belief that there were things you could have done differently that might have influenced the outcome. This may be true. But a tenure situation often involves secrecy about how you are actually perceived and evaluated by your colleagues. Frequently, the individual is excluded from the very knowledge needed to effectively address any problem. It is also possible that even if you had done a specific thing differently, the outcome would have been the same because of decision factors beyond your control. The most sensible and reasonable approach is first to ask yourself what others could have done differently, particularly those in authority, such as the department chairperson, who has a responsibility to provide you with honest feedback concerning your performance. Furthermore, it is healthy to recall that the tenure decision was not yours to make and therefore your control over it was limited at best.
Avoiding self-blame is one key way to cope emotionally with the situation. Self-blame serves only to increase depression and feelings of low self-esteem. Research indicates that "characterological" self-blame (i.e., blaming the kind of person you are for the negative outcome) is especially debilitating (Janoff-Bulman, 1979). Self-blame, however, is different from taking responsibility for negative evaluations that have some legitimacy. This is a very important distinction. Be careful not to target yourself as the cause of the problem without a critical analysis of all the data to differentiate what is erroneous from what is not.
While coping with the denial of tenure or promotion, a faculty member must simultaneously decide what actions he or she wants to take to remedy the problem. This is far from an ideal situation for optimal planning and decision making, especially when the negative aspects of the situation may seem overwhelming and unchallengeable. It is not surprising that an individual faced with this type of stress often feels powerless to effect change and pessimistic about the likely success of any of the available ways to try to bring it about.
If you believe that you have been unfairly evaluated, you should know that women and ethnic minorities have successfully challenged negative tenure and promotion decisions. You may never have expected to challenge a decision made by your superiors and colleagues, and doing so may certainly not be the best route to take in all situations, but do not be overly pessimistic about the chances of reversing a negative decision.
Challenging a negative decision can be emotionally, physically, and financially costly. However, keeping silent in the face of unfair treatment may be even more detrimental (Krieger, 1990). Furthermore, winning your case may have long-term benefits. You may need assistance to make a realistic appraisal of the pluses and minuses of fighting the decision in your particular case. The best person to help sort out and define your options is someone you trust, who understands these issues and whose judgment you respect.
Even if you are generally positive about yourself and confident in your abilities and the worth of your work, being turned down for tenure is probably going to challenge your sense of well being, at least temporarily. In the abstract, individuals often acknowledge that this type of situation is likely to create problems for anyone regardless of ego strength. However, when faced personally with the negative decision, you may feel that you should be able to cope and keep your distress under control. One beneficial coping strategy is to acknowledge the appropriateness of feeling distressed and even devastated by the situation. The turmoil created by being denied tenure or promotion taxes one's best efforts at adaptation. Healthy functioning in such a situation does not mean that you are going to be able to maintain a lid on your emotions or keep the emotional distress from interfering with functioning effectively at work or in other areas of life. Even with a strong support system, individuals at minimum often feel that their scholarly research and writing comes to a standstill either because of the time and energy required to fight a negative decision or the effort needed to seek other employment and move.
One of the things that makes a negative tenure situation a formidable stressor is that you usually go through it alone, without a companion or a group with whom to compare reactions. Research has shown that significant emotional and physical benefits can result from having a confidant and other social support resources (Brown, Bhorlehain,& Harris, 1975). Unfortunately, the circumstances in a tenure situation may be especially difficult because those who had been considered your friends in the department prior to the decision may find themselves constrained by department rules, university procedures, or the department chairperson's directives not to discuss the circumstances. Needless to say, this can increase the level of stress you experience. These types of relationships may even be permanently affected by the situation. Even if you are able to obtain some measure of collegial support (and this is more likely if the department supported you for tenure and you were blocked at a higher level), it is wise to begin early to broaden the base of your support outside your department and university.
If you are experiencing emotional or physical symptoms that are not normal for you, consider seeking professional help. Often, short-term counseling can have a marked impact, resulting in increased self-esteem, a lower sense of vulnerability and isolation, and an improved physical state. Choose a therapist who is cognizant of systemic and institutional-based biases against women and minorities and who will be supportive to you in dealing with these barriers. Also, talk with others who have had similar experiences. The support of other survivors is important to coping and recovery. It is important to include good health care as part of your support system. Develop a good relationship with a physician and keep appointments for regular checkups. Work with your physician on formulating a good fitness plan that fits your lifestyle. Avoid thinking that unusual symptoms are merely stress reactions. Check with your physician for a thorough examination.
Besides seeking emotional support, rely on your network of colleagues outside the university to provide recognition of your work. A grievance or other litigation will take time to be resolved, during which you will have to cope of a daily basis with the implicit devaluation of your work. Even if the decision is resolved in your favor, the biased view of others toward your work may not change. Having an alternative reference group outside your department will help you cope. If the final decision is not in your favor, you will usually have a terminal year, when your outside professional network can be helpful in obtaining a position elsewhere.
It is not unusual to have feelings of self-doubt, worthlessness, and devaluation when experiencing a negative tenure decision. To counteract these negative feelings, try using relaxation and imagery techniques to increase the frequency of positive, tranquil, and restorative mental states. They may help you decrease anxiety, which tends to fuel self-doubt. Engage in activities in which you can feel a sense of productivity-things concrete and practical.
Challenging a negative tenure decision or taking steps toward securing another position requires substantial attention and effort. Therefore, the amount of time you can devote to your work will diminish to some extent. You cannot expect to be able to go on doing "business as usual" under such circumstances. The challenge is to adjust your expectations to be more realistic.
When turned down for tenure, most individuals have a difficult time concentrating on their work, and their productivity decreases. This often engenders concern about being unproductive and fears about lack of success that add to the already-heavy emotional burden. If the negative tenure decision was made at the department level, just coming into the office can be a marathon accomplishment. Many individuals find it very difficult to focus on their work while in the department office because encountering other faculty reignites feelings of betrayal and outrage. If you find yourself experiencing this, you should probably consider working more at home.
Some faculty have taken a leave of absence to teach at another university in a visiting capacity while their case is being reviewed. The greater isolation you might have to tolerate on a leave of absence may be more than compensated for by your being in an environment where it is possible to focus on your work. It is most important to recognize that, although you may not be as productive as you would like to be or usually are, this is understandable and represents a transient phenomenon.
Some women and ethnic minorities who have been denied tenure have made the decision to leave academia and apply their skills in another setting. Many of these individuals feel happy and satisfied with this choice and often regret not leaving academia sooner. One helpful coping strategy may be to assess in what other settings your skills might be used (e.g., in private industry or government, as a consultant or as an applied practitioner). The intelligence and creativity that have brought you this far may be useful in developing alternatives of which your faculty advisors may never have dreamed.
One way to increase the retention and promotion of underrepresented groups in academia is to help those who experience tenure denial become knowledgeable about functional strategies for challenging these negative decisions. Such knowledge can optimize one's chances of gaining a fair and equitable review. The strategies presented here were employed by individuals who won their cases (i.e., overturned negative decisions). They represent cases of women and/or ethnic minority faculty at all professorial ranks, from assistant to full professor, in a variety of disciplines. This section is not a substitute for legal advice, and anyone contemplating litigation (or possibly even use of administrative procedures) should seriously consider obtaining legal advice.
When a faculty member successfully challenges an institution and wins a case, not only are the individuals directly involved affected, but also the entire process of personnel decision making in academic institutions is affected. Although they can be costly in terms of time, money, and morale, grievances and lawsuits do help institutions become more alert to illegal or improper bias and more careful that such bias does not enter future decision making.
The strategies listed in this guide focus on internal grievances, with the assumption that if problems can be resolved internally, civil litigation can be prevented. Because of the cost and time involved in civil litigation, it is generally recommended that this avenue not be pursued until all internal channels of appeal and grievances have been exhausted.
Functional Approaches to Challenging Negative Decisions
A variety of models of positive response to stress and feelings of powerlessness prescribe assertive, active behaviors directed at problem solving as an effective coping strategy (Hobfoll, et al., 1991). Assertive behaviors can be helpful in channeling anger, reducing feelings of helplessness and lack of personal control, in addition to overturning adverse and unfair decisions (Loo, in press). Rebuttals and appeals are examples of such instrumental strategies.
Functional, assertive steps that have been taken by faculty who have successfully overturned negative decisions include: (a) request a summary of the evaluation in writing, (b) seek consultation from informed professionals, (c) determine whether there have been procedural errors, (d) correct inaccuracies or identify differential treatment, (e) utilize appropriate procedures to disqualify people unable to be impartial in evaluating the work of a particular individual, and (f) retain an attorney.
Written documentation of criticisms raised about your work is necessary to judge their validity. If these claims are invalid, written documentation is further necessary for competent counter argument. Unfortunately, you can be so shocked by a decision to deny tenure and so uninformed of your rights that you fail to request a written summary of the evaluation. In one case, a woman was told that the review committee was not planning to recommend her for tenure and that she should plan to secure employment elsewhere. She did so, unaware of her rights. Subsequent to her departure, the department was investigated for its past failure to tenure any of its women faculty (Anonymous, personal communication, October, 1990).
In some institutions, a conspiracy of silence based on a desire for consensus may make it difficult to obtain information related to the decision of your promotion and tenure. Consider consulting the institutional ombudsperson or affirmative action officer, whose job it is to inform faculty and staff of their rights and to promote fairness in the evaluation process. This person can explain your procedural rights. Others may not provide this information if there is either bias against your candidacy or a desire on the administration's part to avoid controversy or dissension.
When denial occurs at the college or university level, a department chairperson can be a strong advocate for the department's decision. At every step of the appeal process, establish and maintain contact with higher level administrators who have a strong track record of support for the retention and promotion of women and ethnic minorities. Make your cause their cause.
Read your university's policies and procedures manual carefully to determine whether proper procedures were consistently followed. If there was bias in evaluating your case, this subjectivity may have affected how the evaluation process was handled. A failure to follow documented procedures exposes an institution to liability. If your analysis uncovers procedural discrepancies, promptly document which procedures were not followed and how. Common types of procedural infractions include:
Refusal of a department chair to provide a written summary of the department's evaluation when the policy manual states that the candidate has the opportunity to receive a written summary of the substance of his or her review
Not being informed of an initial negative decision and thus being prevented from exercising your stated right to submit a written response,
Denial of a timely review when the policy manual calls for the committee to conduct the review in a timely manner,
Prevention from obtaining your confidential personnel file if the policy manual entitles you to receive it,
Failure on the part of the review committee to determine your role in published work of joint authorship when the policy manual states that it is the responsibility of the department chairperson to establish this as clearly as possible, and
Failure on the part of the review committee to exercise reasonable flexibility in balancing heavier commitments and responsibilities in one area against lighter commitments and responsibilities in another when the policy manual states that such flexibility must be applied.
A rebuttal provides you with an opportunity to correct misconceptions or misinterpretations or to present factual evidence to dispute incorrect claims. Whenever possible, present data, facts, or pieces of evidence which substantiate your claim. If appropriate, identify specific examples of bias or oversight in your review that may have precluded a fair, complete, or competent evaluation of your work. Where criteria used for promotion are inappropriate to your field of specialty, point this out. It is also important to point out instances in which criteria are used more stringently than normal or are differentially applied.
Whenever possible, provide comparability data from the reviews of other faculty in your department, particularly cases involving White men or those who have been promoted previously in your department. An especially convincing method for presenting such data is to calculate your own rank, length of employment, and number of publications as compared with other faculty in your department. The number of citations to your and others' work noted in the Social Sciences Citation Index is one objective measure that can be used. This data is available for you to calculate and present in tabular form. Finally, make note of any persistent bias, where it is evident, and continuing failures to remediate bias.
Immediately notify the proper officials in writing of any committee member whose behavior at any stage of your academic career leads you to suspect that he or she may be biased or prejudiced in evaluating you or your work. Document each and every instance of suspected bias and present this documentation to support your claim. Your perceptions may be based on personal experience, that of others, or written materials.
Retaining an attorney can be a form of "psychological insurance." It can also functionally strengthen your case. Your attorney's written communications to the university can be helpful in conveying your seriousness of intent. It may subtly pressure the university to conduct a fair review or re-review. Attorneys can be vital in articulating the legal arguments of your case or in negotiating a settlement or resolution. If you choose to retain an attorney, it is important to find one who is an expert in equal opportunity cases. The American Association of University Professors, local chapters of the National Organization for Women, and the Federation of Organizations for Professional Women can provide appropriate referrals.
The road through the academic ranks for women and ethnic minorities can be a rough one. It is our hope that the strategies for survival presented here and the experiences of those who have won their cases will be of help to you. In addition, we hope that such cases highlight the need for institutional improvement in faculty employment decisions, particularly as they apply to women and ethnic minorities. As Rothblum (1988) pointed out, there are institutional, interpersonal, and psychological factors that must be examined in the academic arena as they pertain to the treatment of women (and ethnic minorities). Systemic change can be slow and painful work. Take heart.
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