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About Virtual Visiting Scholars

Joya Misra, PhD

2020-2021 Cohort
Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dr. Joya Misra is currently Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has also served as Director of the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as Vice President of the American Sociological Association, and as Editor of Gender & Society. Dr. Misra’s experience includes leadership on multiple NSF ADVANCE grants which focus on organizational change for gender equity in STEM. Dr. Misra’s research in the areas of political sociology and labor markets explores inequality from an intersectional standpoint. Much of her research considers how gender and parenthood affect women’s employment, wages, and risk of poverty. She also has studied how race, gender, nationality, and class shape the experiences of retail workers and academics. Dr. Misra published her first piece on intersectional inequality among faculty members in 1999. Her collaborative research on gender equity in STEM appears in a wide array of journals, as well as in regular contributions to Inside Higher Education. Dr. Misra earned her BA in Religion from Centenary College and her MA and PhD in Sociology from Emory University.

Gender, Intersectionality, Workload and Leadership in STEM Departments

This project aims to address intersectional inclusion in decision-making and leadership, as well as over-inclusion in service. Women, particularly women of color, often face exclusion in STEM departments, including in decision-making. STEM faculty women may find it difficult to influence departmental decisions, particularly for women of color. Paradoxically, women often serve as “worker bees,” carrying out the lion’s share of committee work, mentoring, and service in the department – even as they may be locked out of more visible leadership opportunities and have less influence than colleagues around important and long-term decisions around promotion & tenure, faculty recruitment, or chair selection. Indeed, women’s engagement in service work and mentoring, as well as their lack of influence over other decisions, may negatively impact their retention and career progression. Thus, women are both excluded from weighty decisions, and over-included in the daily grind of service work, in ways that tend to reproduce existing hierarchies of inequality by race, gender, and other social locations.

The proposed qualitative meta-analysis will synthesize existing research on workload, decision-making and leadership, considering how race and nationality intersect with gender, to answer: (1) Are there gender differences in faculty influence and leadership? (2) How do these differences relate to workload imbalance? (3) How do these differences impact faculty careers, including retention and advancement? The goal is to connect these two literatures, and consider how to structure interventions to address these barriers. Service work is a form of leadership – yet the overrepresentation of White women and women of color in lower-level service work has not led to an overrepresentation of these women in leadership at higher levels. Addressing this puzzle through a meta-analysis could generate new insights.

View Report (PDF)