Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Women Faculty Writing Groups

Inside Higher Ed, Encouraging Female Faculty to Publish Research

For professors, finding time to do research can be difficult. Especially if they are women.


Numerous studies have found that female professors work the same number of hours as their male counterparts, but they spend less time on research and more time on other commitments. In a 2008 study by professors at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of Georgia, female participants spent an hour and a half less per week on research than their male counterparts. A big reason was that they spent an hour more on service and a half hour more on teaching.


The Women Faculty Writing Groups at Texas Tech University aim to combat this gender gap in research. Founded this fall, the program seeks to offer female professors a three-hour chunk of time each week to pursue writing and publishing their research without getting sidetracked by other demands, said Caroline Bishop, assistant professor of classical and modern languages at Texas Tech and a co-founder of the program.


“We really wanted to have a safe, protected time,” Bishop said. “A time when women can say no to other things.”


The overarching goal of the program is to help women prioritize research, which is often the biggest factor in promotion, said Kristin Messuri, associate director of the University Writing Center at Texas Tech and another co-founder of the program. “Women faculty tend to be promoted at lower rates than male faculty,” she said. “They go up for promotion less often. When you get into full professors, there are fewer of them.”


While the program’s goal is ambitious, its structure is simple. At the beginning of each three-hour session, participants discuss articles on productivity and share their progress and goals, Messuri said. The remaining two and a half hours are devoted to writing for publication.

I've done something like this over the years, though it has fallen off.  Early on we had the Momus group (we met at Cafe Momus), a mixed group (three women, two men) who bi-weekly shared rough drafts and writing problems.  It was here that I really learned how differently people write, and what works and what doesn't.  

Then for a few wonderful years we had a small group of women faculty who went to a lake house for a week retreat.  The peace and energy jump started our research each summer, and we walked away from the week with a good chunk of work begun.  (Not to mention how wonderful it was to have 4 women thoughtfully making coffee, cleaning up the kitchen, making snacks, and conversing over dinner).  The realities of life and family made it hard to keep this going, though we tried a "day" retreat for a few years meeting off campus and discussing progress over lunch.



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