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Dr. Joya Misra a Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts. Her research explores inequality in workplaces and societies from an intersectional standpoint, and she has been engaged with multiple NSF ADVANCE grants focusing on organizational change for gender equity in STEM.

Misra is a member of the third ARC Network Virtual Visiting Scholar (VVS) cohort. The VVS program provides a unique opportunity for select scholars across disciplines to pursue research meta-analysis, synthesis, and big data curation on topics crucial to STEM faculty equity.

Misra was at the ARC Network Equity in STEM Community Convening in 2019, and had the chance to see VVS cohort 1 members Cara Margherio and Ethel Mickey speak about their projects. “I thought this was a great thing happening in this space, that people were being offered the chance to pull back from the existing literature and examine what we really know,” Misra says. Misra published her first piece on intersectional inequality among faculty members in 1999, and saw the VVS program as an opportunity to think about how the research in the field has developed and evolved over the past few decades.

Misra’s VVS research focused on workload and leadership, and was a natural outgrowth of work she had already done with colleagues about the impact of differential burdens on women’s careers. “I kept seeing this paradox where women were doing a lot of leadership work at the lower levels, what is often referred to as “service,” but we're not being represented at higher levels,” she says. “Additionally, many women on my campus have completed leadership training oriented to women, but have subsequently left to become leaders elsewhere, and I wanted to understand why that would happen.”

Misra spent most of the year developing an answer to the question of why women are often local leaders but not senior leaders.

“They’re not in senior positions because of their roles in local positions. They can’t spend time on research because they’re carrying out “academic housekeeping,” which can limit progress in their career.”

She hopes people will come away from her research with the understanding that academia has to find fairer ways of dividing the workload, ensuring that men as well as women, white faculty as well as faculty of color, take part in the less venerated service work. This may allow women of color and white women to make progress in senior leadership positions. She’s considering a proposal for an empirical project that would build on her analysis by looking at leadership and workload across many universities.

“In my career, I have absolutely seen change occur. I hope that what I’ve been able to think through here and what I can explore more in the future through empirical work will also lead to real, measurable shifts in leadership opportunities for white women and women of color.”

Misra thinks the VVS program is a wonderful opportunity, and has regularly recommended it to others, including one of the cohort 4 members.

“I’m very grateful to the program. It gave me a unique opportunity to think about topics I otherwise wouldn’t have had the time to explore. The community is wonderful and I’m looking forward to seeing it continue and to the work of future scholars.”
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