It is important to be precise regarding the definition and use of the term “bias” in this report. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (on-line version, July 2003) defines bias as a “bent” or “tendency.”

3 a : BENT, TENDENCY b : an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : PREJUDICE c : an instance of such prejudiced (1) : deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates (2) : systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others

synonyms PREDILECTION, PREPOSSESSION, PREJUDICE, BIAS mean an attitude of mind that predisposes one to favor something. PREDILECTION implies a strong liking deriving from one's temperament or experience <a predilection for horror movies>. PREPOSSESSION suggests a fixed conception likely to preclude objective judgment of anything counter to it <a prepossession against technology>. PREJUDICE usually implies an unfavorable prepossession and connotes a feeling rooted in suspicion, fear, or intolerance <a mindless prejudice against the unfamiliar>. BIAS implies an unreasoned and unfair distortion of judgment in favor of or against a person or thing <the common bias against overweight people>.

The M-W Dictionary definition we employ here notes that “bias implies an unreasoned and unfair distortion of judgment in favor of or against a person or thing,” the meaning assumed by this report.

On this basis,

  • reasoned policies or actions based on open faculty deliberations that entertain diversity of views, or
  • consistently derived, explained, publicized and applied institutional standards or actions

are not biased because they represent reasoned, fairly judged, corporate responses. However, it is recognized that some individuals may not agree with policies or actions that do not coincide with their own personal views.

Bias involves unreasoned judgments or actions that reflect preferences or predilections, typically held by individuals and expressed either in overt or subtle ways; such bias can affect mentoring, P&T deliberations and career development.

Common forms of bias include, but are not limited to, unreasoned preferences or predilections related to individual characteristics such as:

  • gender
  • race/ethnicity
  • age
  • disability
  • religious affiliation/preference
  • family situation

Bias might also appear in elements of faculty work:

  • allocation of financial, space and equipment resources
  • utility and expectations of mentoring processes
  • selection of mentors and methods of guidance
  • assignment of graduate students
  • assignment of committee and other service duties
  • assignment of teaching duties

Bias can involve perceptions concerning research and reputation:

  • engaging in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary research
  • teaming versus independent investigation
  • forums for publishing and presentation
  • selecting individuals or areas to be represented on review committees
  • engaging in design and synthesis oriented research
  • engaging in entrepreneurial activities
  • selecting references and dealing with input from references

In sum, these preferences can significantly affect guidance for faculty development, as well as evaluation processes and outcomes.

Bias is largely about power and control. It is not always self-identified and can therefore be rather innocently expressed in evaluation meetings that contribute to significant decisions affecting lives of individuals and quality of institutions. In cases where it is knowingly wielded, it can serve as a manipulative tool to influence outcomes. Exercise of bias, even in subtle ways, can propagate “sameness” and an “institutional profile” or “mold” that is not particularly attractive for an institution aspiring to be among the world’s elite from perspectives of intellectual achievement and diversity of thought. A recent survey conducted by ADVANCE at Georgia Tech shown in Fig. 1 (Georgia Tech Advance Survey of Faculty Needs and Patterns, preliminary 2003 data, subject to verification; Mary Frank Fox, Co-PI) showed a remarkably consistent view across gender of the importance of various factors that affect promotion and salary, apart from some gender variation in categories perceived by both men and women as less important. This is in part due to the common understanding of the culture of Georgia Tech and perceived expectations of faculty that have developed over the years.

One goal of the present study is to learn how to identify forms of bias - unreasoned and unfair distortion of judgment – that each of us may hold as we enter into deliberations, permitting us to guard against their use. Another goal is to diminish the likelihood that bias can be openly and knowingly expressed and used as a tool to influence deliberations. PTAC members summarize 10 areas of bias particularly pertinent to Georgia Tech in the following sections. References for each bias area, along with related literature and web links, are listed at the end of this section.

Figure 1. Rating of overall faculty and breakdown by gender of perceived importance of various factors in decisions on promotion and salary at Georgia Tech, 2003.
Scale: (1) not at all important, (2) slightly important, (3) somewhat important, and (4) very important.

I.1 Gender: Women in Academic Science and Engineering
By Mary Hunt, excerpted/adapted from Georgia Tech ADVANCE proposal


Efforts to address the participation and performance of women in science and engineering are crucial to the nation for several reasons: the need for a diverse and talented scientific and technological workforce (Rosser, 2000), principles of social equity rooted in democratic ideology (Pearson and Fetcher, 1994) and the ideal that scientific careers “be open to talent” (Merton, 1973: 272). Further, the full participation of women in academic careers in science and engineering is particularly crucial because academia is a central site for research and the training of students in the United States. There are important consequences associated with women faculty in their roles as teachers, advisers, and role models. Compared with men, women faculty in science and engineering, on average, act as primary research advisors for a larger number of female students, have more female students on their research teams, and put more emphasis upon help given to advisees across a span of skills/capacities, both technical and interactional (e.g. making presentations and participating in laboratory meetings) (Fox, 2001a).

Consequently, the relatively low numbers and proportions of women that persist in academic science and engineering, especially at the most senior ranks, are of serious concern for the nation and its institutions of higher education. In 1973, women comprised 4% of full professors across all fields in the NSF classification of science and engineering (this classification comprises physical, mathematical, computer, environmental, life, and engineering, as well as the psychological and social sciences). In 1987, that proportion was 7%; in 1993, 10%; and in 1997, still just 11% (Fox, 1999; CPST, 2000); moreover, these figures are inflated by the numbers of women in psychology with the broad classification. The lower rates of promotion and slower promotion through the ranks of women compared to men in academic science are patterns that hold even with controls are enforced for individual publication productivity and prestige of institutional location (Cole, 1979; Long, Allison, and McGinnis, 1993; Sonnert and Holton, 1995).

Women in science and engineering are a select and qualified group, whose ability, educational credentials, and attainments are as high or higher than male counterparts (Fox, 1996, 1999; Sonnert, 1999). The problem and solutions are not a simple matter of correcting personal deficits or shortcomings. Rather, the issues are more complex, connected to organizational context, the characteristics of the settings in which scientists and engineers work.

Organizational context is important in explaining attainments across occupations. But it is especially important in scientific fields, because in sciences, work revolves around the cooperation of people and groups; requires human and material resources; and relies upon facilities, funds, apparatus and teamwork (Fox, 1991). Accordingly, solutions for the advancement of women in academic science and engineering disciplines involve organizational factors and the features of the settings of work - organizational signals, priorities, reward schemes, alliances, climates, and culture (Fox, 1996, 2000, 2001b). The advancement of women in academic science and engineering is then an organizational issue that can be affected by institutional transformation.

Gender Bias and Institutional Transformation

Gender bias is not limited to one sex. Studies have shown that both females and males tend to give a slight disadvantage to women and a slight advantage to men in our professional endeavors even when qualifications are equal. In Why So Slow: The Advancement of Women, Virginia Valian identifies these phenomena as gender schemas, or sets of implicit, or nonconscious, hypotheses about sex differences that play a central role in shaping men’s and women’s professional lives. They affect our expectation of men and women, our evaluation of their work, and our perception of their performance as professionals. Schemas are not stereotypes. They are not limited to one kind of hypothesis and they are usually unarticulated. Most individuals in the professions and academia profess egalitarian beliefs and do their best to judge fairly. Even so, the majority of men and women, even those who believe they are fair and open minded, revert to schemas that influence their interpretation of others’ performance. Schemas are errors that can inadvertently become part of the formation, maintenance, and application of certain processes. These interpretations are influenced by the unacknowledged beliefs we all have about gender differences. The simple act of awareness about schemas will go a long way toward limiting bias.

Bias comes in many forms. Most gender bias can be identified as either overt or subtle. Society has developed a set of guidelines for dealing with various forms of overt gender bias. Sexual assault is a crime punishable by law. Sexual harassment, as defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC, states that “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment”. In this instance, EEOC guidelines suggest that the victim directly inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.

Subtle forms of gender bias are much more prevalent and are often difficult to define. Small, seemingly minor incidents are often disregarded or “shrugged off” as part of everyday life. This acceptance of small slights as inconsequential can have significant impact on the promotion of women in the professions and academia (Valian, 1998). The long-term consequences of small differences in the evaluation and treatment of men and women reinforce the idea of the “glass ceiling”. These small differences add up to slow progress and include disparities in pay, prestige, and promotion. A few examples of situations that may impact women’s progress over time are: limited access to senior staff because of family commitments, evening or weekend meetings; less use of titles by leadership during important events, males referred to by first and last name, females by first name only; allowing humor discrediting women to go unchallenged because it is intermittent; giving greater credit to a male colleague on work done as a team; discounting female’s work as that of an “assistant”, not a full partner or leader; and not acknowledging a woman’s comments during group meetings or cutting off comments before completed. These are but a few of many instances that create small disparities in daily work situations. Over time these and other actions add up to significant differences in decisions related to promotion and advancement.

There are many ways to identify and guard against gender bias. Three key strategies for improving opportunities for the advancement of women are: promoting awareness of gender schemas and the potential for bias of any kind; making sure those in leadership positions take an active role in reducing bias by modeling appropriate behavior and by making this issue a priority for inclusion in speeches, new programs and incorporation into institutional culture; and emphasizing that no one should accept small inequities in their workplace because the accumulation of small disadvantages can substantially impede progress. Institutional transformation and shifts in organizational “culture” must begin with the acknowledgement of potential roadblocks, such as gender bias. Institutional leaders can ensure a successful work environment that promotes men and women by encouraging awareness and leading by example.

I.2 Race and Ethnicity
By Jeannette Yen


As the affirmative action case of the University of Michigan (UM) brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 (New York Times: 2/18/03) indicated, diversity on our university campuses continues to require effort and attention. The briefs in support of affirmative action policies at UM argue that racial and ethnic diversity have become essential features of success in the United States, whether in a university offering an education that challenges students to know others from different backgrounds and perspectives, or a medical school that sees minority doctors as opening new avenues of research, or military leaders who seek well-educated minorities to fill the officer corps (2/23/03). As cited in the New York Times (2/18/03), ‘the scores of briefs amounted to a broad endorsement of affirmative action policies by leading sectors of society at the moment they are most in jeopardy.’

Similar to the concerns of achieving gender equity in academia in a broad sense, the efforts to diversify the faculty in particular continue to be one of the least successful components of campus diversity agenda (Smith et al. 1996). Why is it important to have a diverse faculty? Since 1900, the fraction of high school graduates attending college has increased several-fold; more than half the workforce passes through college. Necessarily, there is a rich diversity of racial and ethnic backgrounds among the present day college student population (Diversity Web; New York Times, 2/24/2003). Many argue that faculty composition ought to reflect diversity of general culture. Diversity in the faculty provides role models, mentors, advisors, ranges of perspectives, and a variety of life experiences. It is often not easy nor entirely comfortable to achieve diversity, but it is precisely the creative tension of diverse peoples and perspectives that allows free and creative thought to thrive.

Issue #1: Recruitment

How do we hire a diverse faculty? Studies report the following suppositions as myths:

  • Being a white male may be a hindrance.
  • People of color are in high demand and are subject to competitive bidding wars in a tight market for faculty positions.

Why are these myths prevalent? Even among elite programs (research I institutes, Ivy League schools, prestigious scholarships), a low percentage of scholars of color were actively sought after by several programs simultaneously. White men, white women, men of color and women of color had equal access to jobs. Faculty of color were not in great demand nor were they subject to competitive bidding wars. ‘What is imperative is that institutions must not fall back on the myths—they are untrue, they are damaging, and they misname the problem and the potential solutions.’ (Smith et al., 1996). We need to develop pro-active mechanisms for building our pool of under-represented minority scholars.

Issue #2: Affirmative action
Critics of affirmative action in higher education have suggested that proactive efforts to diversify the pool of minority and women faculty members are unnecessary and unfair. Evidence suggests, however, that current efforts to diversity college faculty are, in fact, both fair and badly needed if higher education is to adequately serve America’s current and future students. Proponents argue that affirmative action policies are still necessary to remedy past and current discrimination.

Issue #3: Retention
Some data indicate that retention, an issue intimately related to promotion and tenure, remains as an equity issue for under-represented minorities, since a low percentage of faculty of color were at the rank of full professor (Diversity Web).

Issue #4: Constraints

Three cultural norms of behavior of faculty culture can be discerned (Diversity Web, Digest):

1. rank-based hierarchy: Untenured faculty defer authority to tenured in opinion/action/etc.

2. untenured faculty silence: Minority have more difficulty than majority in addressing fairness issues. Majority remain silent about departmental doctoral programs and hiring decisions. This behavior is very different from under-represented faculty who remain silent on critical issues such as: unfair salaries, limited space, unfair merit pay distribution. The majority do not remain silent on these issues that directly relate to themselves.

3. individualism in the reward process: At the interview stage, universities offer opportunities to be socialized into network in a caring environment w/ strong sense of community. After arrival, minorities are often left on their own. Majority faculty report more satisfaction with socialization experiences and levels of support they received in departments than did under-represented faculty. Majority faculty find it easier to reach out to majority than to under-represented colleagues. Under-represented minorities generally feel isolated and alienated; they experience discrimination, lower salaries, ranks, and tenure rates.

Issue #5: Suggested solutions:

Recruitment/retention: Sincere and concerted efforts are needed to recruit and retain traditionally under-represented faculty. The Georgia Institute of Technology, College of Engineering Task Force on Diversity (Brown et al. 2003) made the following recommendations. This task force recognized that the pipeline of prospective under-represented faculty candidates is small, but nevertheless includes some very strong and talented individuals. They recommend that formalized minority faculty recruiting exchange trips occur with peer institutes. Encouragement is recommended to consider carefully the hiring of outstanding doctoral graduates of their own programs. Enhancement of efforts to establish endowed professorships for outstanding minority junior and mid-career faculty is recommended. By providing incentives (such as subsidized or partially subsidized) faculty lines, schools can be better able to recruit outstanding under-represented minority faculty. When appropriate, units should be allowed to expedite the process for faculty hiring. It was recommended that the recruitment of minority faculty be included in annual evaluation of schools and school chairs.

Networking: The effort to reach out to under-represented faculty can be included as part of job description of higher rank academics to combat alienation. Chairs need to enforce/reinforce. Efforts to create small-group settings, encourage teamwork, reward with travel money for team research or teaching can promote networking/teamwork versus individual reward.

Meritorious activities: Care should be taken in involving under-represented faculty because these faculty members also already have the job of being a role model. These faculty members should be given the opportunity to take influential leadership positions. Scholarship can be evaluated considering innovation in ideas, evident in unusual teams, discoveries, and educational programs (Boyer 1990).

Identify disincentives: We can rely on women and minority faculty to identify disincentives and solutions for removing barriers from academia (Nelson, 2003).

Research: Participate in studies of efforts of ethnic groups to advance in academia. To achieve diversity, we can learn from the efforts of many groups, be they Asian (Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education), women, or under-represented minorities.


Responses to recent challenges to affirmative action recognize the need for diversity in our universities. Achieving racial and ethnic diversity in our faculty requires concerted effort in recruitment, retention, promotion and tenure. Familiarization with other cultures and under-represented minorities (ethnic studies programs, networking, awareness) can clarify and reduce expression of bias.

I.3 Disability
By Douglas Allen


Tenure in American universities was established to protect faculty members' academic freedom, to provide enough security to attract able men and women to the profession, and to protect the curriculum by placing it in the hands of a stable faculty body. Courts have established that tenure, once acquired, is a property interest protected by the Constitution when conferred by public institutions. Although cases by faculty members against colleges and universities involve reappointment, promotion, and other issues, the most prominent cases deal with the denial of tenure. The appointment of an individual to a faculty position is not a guarantee of tenure, however. Tenure may be denied for a number of reasons. Where the criteria for tenure is clear, unambiguous, widely disseminated, and fairly and uniformly applied, tenure may be denied on reasonable grounds. Where a faculty member with a disability has experienced institutional bias, or has been denied advancement in rank due to a pattern of discrimination associated with the disability, colleges and universities are at risk (Case of Hegland v. Santa Clara University, 2001).

See Hegland v. Santa Clara University. Assistant Professor Hegland was bitten by a tick in her third year of the probationary period. Over the next year she developed health problems: muscle and joint aches, inability to focus, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and frozen jaws. The following summer she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Due to her declining health, she went on disability leave for three years. When Hegland returned to teaching half time in 1997, the dean's office advised her that it was time to submit her application for tenure. Despite a favorable departmental vote and the support of the entire College-level Tenure Committee, Hegland was denied tenure in 1998. In 2000 she filed her complaint alleging retaliation and disability and sex discrimination. Hegland settled her suit with the university in 2001. Though the terms of the settlement are confidential, Hegland was pleased with the outcome. She is currently a tenured professor at Santa Clara University.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is based on the concept that the person not only has a disability but is also "qualified" to participate in some activity (such as employment as a faculty member). Thus, what is forbidden is not discrimination in the literal sense and based on disability per se, but discrimination despite qualification, due to disability (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Jan. 1990). This is an important distinction. While the definition of a disability has been broadly interpreted, and may range from alcoholism to morbid obesity, the test is whether or not the individual is “otherwise qualified”. Thus a person duly hired as a full-time faculty member would presumptively meet this test. Thus, the issue resides in whether or not the person with a disability was restricted or otherwise impaired by the university’s lack of “interactive process” and “reasonable accommodation”.

Issue #1: Defining Essential Functions

The specific definition of being "qualified" (or "otherwise qualified") for Section 504 or ADA employment discrimination purposes can be stated as "being able to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation." The concept is intended to distinguish between those minor or ancillary functions that could be easily reassigned and those functions that "are" the job in question. Integral to this issue is the concept of "essential functions." An "essential function" is one that, if removed, would truly change the job in question. By hiring a person in a tenure-track position, the university has defined, de facto, the “essential function” of the job. Thus, if impediments to the performance of this essential function arise, that are not addressed by the institution, then bias may exist. To mitigate bias, or the potential of bias, the courts have adopted the concepts of “interactive process” and “reasonable accommodation”

For a discussion of “essential function”, see Calef v. The Gillette Co. 1st Cir. March 11, 2003 (Where a terminated employee brought suit under ADA, the court issued a summary judgment in favor of employer. The plaintiff failed to show that he was disabled; plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he was an otherwise qualified employee because, with or without accommodation, he could not perform an essential function of his job.)


Issue #2 Interactive Process and Reasonable Accommodation

The issue here is whether or not the university has engaged in a clear process and made a good faith effort to provide “reasonable accommodation” that would allow the faculty member to perform the essential function of their job in teaching, research, and service.

Interactive Process: Generally, an employer should not reach a conclusion that no accommodation is possible without first discussing the situation with the person with a disability. This "interactive process" is critical because, in many cases, employers may overestimate what will be required or may be unaware of the real nature of the disability. The person with a disability is often well informed on advances in technology, for example, that are relevant to their needs. On the other hand, the employer may be aware of workplace opportunities and limitations that the disabled employee does not know about. A simple conversation, clearly and properly noted, about what the employer needs or can do and what the employee is able to do, or would be able to do, if something were changed, will satisfy this "interactive process" requirement.

Reasonable Accommodation: "Reasonable accommodation" is not precisely defined, but the statute gives a list of examples of what may be reasonable accommodations in certain cases. These include reassignment to a vacant position, job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, and acquisition or modification of assistive devices. The issue is, simply put; can the employer make some sort of change in the work environment that will enable the person with a disability to perform all the "essential functions" of the job? And, if so, are the changes that would allow this "accommodation" of a sort and cost that can be called "reasonable?"

An example of “reasonable accommodation” might be a case of a faculty member who is blind. The faculty member may be perfectly capable of excellent teaching, may have written extensively and published widely in their field, but be unable to grade a written test, or access promotion and tenure criteria on the university web site. If the university has made “reasonable” attempts to provide the faculty member with a sighted teaching assistant and a copy of the RPT guidelines in Braille, the university would meet the test of “reasonable accommodation”. On the other hand, if these accommodations had never been discussed and clearly noted with the unit head or dean, and the faculty member was provided with a device such as an optical scanner that converted written text into sound, but the faculty member did not know how to operate it properly, then the university would not pass the test of reasonable accommodation because of the failure to reach agreement with the faculty member before the accommodation was provided.

U.S. Supreme Court, School Board of Nassau County v. Arline, 480 U.S. 273 (1987) No. 85-1277. Argued December 3, 1986, Decided March 3, 1987. (In most cases, in order to determine whether a person handicapped by contagious disease is "otherwise qualified" under 504, the district court must conduct an individualized inquiry and make appropriate findings of fact, based on reasonable medical judgments given the state of medical knowledge, about (a) the nature of the risk (e. g., how the disease is transmitted), (b) the duration of the risk, (c) the severity of the risk (what is the potential harm to third parties), and (d) the probabilities the disease will be transmitted and will cause varying degrees of harm. In making these findings, courts normally should defer to the reasonable medical judgments of public health officials. Courts must then determine, in light of these findings, whether any "reasonable accommodation" can be made by the employer under the established standards for that inquiry.)

Issue #3: Architectural Access and Auxiliary Aids

This is an extension of the test of “reasonable accommodation”. Though the issue of reasonable accommodation is usually a general one that can only be determined through case-by-case discussions, public employers, universities, and private businesses are subject to requirements for architectural access to their facilities. The rules regarding architectural access are detailed, complex, and vary significantly depending upon the type of facility, whether it was built before or after the ADA passed, and what activities are being carried out in the facility (among other things). If the problem faced by a faculty member who is disabled relates to architectural access issues, the employer should take extra care to make sure the separate rules on architectural access have been properly followed. In general, a reasonable accommodation could include a programmatic response such as scheduling classes only in buildings that are fully accessible by the standards of the ADA. On the other hand, this can be a “slippery slope”. Such a reassignment of space may isolate a faculty member from their colleagues and may have implications of “unreasonableness” as it applies to the promotion and tenure process. Again, this would require, on a case-by-case basis, an agreement on the part of the faculty member with the unit head and/or dean as to the nature and type of alternate accommodation. In the end, it behooves the university to actively engage in a process by which all of its facilities are brought into standard compliance with the ADA.

Issue #4: Undue Hardship and Direct Threat

A proposed accommodation is not reasonable if it will cause an "undue hardship" or a "direct threat." This applies to both the institution and to the individual. An undue hardship is any "significant difficulty or expense," taking into account the nature and cost of the accommodation and the resources and responsibilities of the employer. In other words, what may be a "reasonable accommodation" for Georgia Tech, may be an "undue hardship" for a smaller college that nevertheless falls under ADA compliance guidelines. In some cases, the courts have compared the budget of the athletic department to the proposed accommodation as to whether or not such accommodation created “undue hardship”

Like the test of reasonable accommodation, the test for "undue hardship" is judged case-by-case. A "direct threat" is a real risk to the health or safety of others arising from the disability of the employee. Direct threat issues most commonly arise with employees with contagious diseases or certain mental illnesses. An employer should consider the severity and nature of the threat, the probability it will be realized, and whether it can be prevented by some accommodation, before determining that there is a "direct threat."

Issue #5: Associational Discrimination

The ADA specifically forbids employers, public and private, from discriminating against non-disabled people due to their social or other relationship to a person with a disability. The most common examples of this are persons with disabled children and the partners of individuals with HIV infection.

I.4 Allocation of Resources
By J. Carlos Santamarina


Resources and research productivity are clearly linked at the macro-scale. For example, the number of Nobel laureates correlates with annual national expenditure, and federal agencies are able to guide research efforts by controlling resource allocation (articles on global resource allocation can be found in Tierney, 1998). However, the impact of resources at the level of each individual faculty member is less obvious, even when the most critical case of hiring packages is considered (e.g. students, release time, low teaching load, summer support, unrestricted account, space and equipment); while the short term effect of hiring packages is understandable, the impact on the long term performance of the individual academician remains unclear and reliable data are lacking.

Issue #1: The Cost of Unsatisfactory Hires

Unsatisfactory hires leave before tenure and promotion (P&T), fail P&T (often after uncomfortable experiences), or become marginally successful faculty who remain bitter for long, unhappy, unproductive careers, negatively impacting the academic environment. Costs associated to such unsatisfactory hires include (modified from Boice, 1992): the cost of recruiting a new faculty (est. $10,000), the cost of a spent hiring package which is useless to others in most cases (est. $100,000), the cost of 5 years of support (est. $500,000), and ultimately the cost of a long unproductive career (huge!). These numbers are likely to be underestimates for many cases in engineering and the sciences. In conclusion, proper hiring and retention is not only “humane” but cost effective.

Issue #2: Defining Resources

Resources assigned to each individual or generated by each individual. There are important differences in early support received by various faculty members within departments and across campus, including: reduced teaching load, summer pay, student support, office and laboratory space, equipment, unrestricted account, academic year salary, and reduced contribution to academic year salary. Salary differences among gender and race are documented in Long, 2001. Published evidence and observations indicate that the role of these resources on the successful growth of the faculty member is not obvious. To some extent the size of hiring packages may not necessarily reflect critical research needs but "victory emblems". Furthermore, anecdotal evidence suggests that there is little difference in tenure success rate (and even lesser effect on long-term performance) between those who received substantial grants and prestigious awards (e.g. NSF) very early in their careers and those who did not.

Campus-wide resources. Campuses are full of relevant resources that are potentially equally or more important than the "individual resources" for the successful development of the faculty member: teaching support, human knowledge and intellectual capabilities, continuous pool of students, technician support, libraries, sophisticated laboratory and field devices, computational capabilities. Yet, evidence suggests that these shared resources are not adequately utilized, particularly by new and/or junior faculty. At least in the case of Faculty Development Resources, there is a generalized consensus that “those who seek it do not need it and those who need it do not seek it” (Boice, 1992).

Intangible Resources. The work environment is a critical resource. It determines the university’s retention rate of successful faculty (camaraderie and a sense of community improve retention). Socially networked faculty members have much better chances of success, and networking leads to enhanced usage of campus-wide resources. Above all, networking supports “collective intelligence” (a metaphor from nature can be found in Franks, 1989).

Local, State and Federal Resources. These are sources that often appear unlimited relative to local resources.

The Individual’s Resource Game. Resources are often utilized to provide counter offers received by faculty who seek new positions. Men are more prone to seek alternative positions than women, hence, they tend to benefit from the “resource game” (see salary trends in Long, 2001). From cost and positive-environment perspectives, it appears that resources should be utilized to further stabilize and support the loyal and productive members of the faculty.

Issue #3: Natural “Selection” and P&T - Biases in the Assessment of Resources

Individualistic “survival of the fittest” behavior is a form of academic Darwinism where the individual’s self preservation abilities prevail. There is another theory of evolution: Kropotkin’s cooperation among the species (Ridley, 1997). These two viewpoints lead to different formats for resource allocation.

It is necessary to clearly state P&T requirements, in this case in the context of individual resource generation (Fish, 2002 – in Chronicle of Higher Education). When clearly stated guidelines are available, the tendency towards bias in the perception of P&T cases for women and minorities decreases.

Issue #4: The Role of Resources on Creative Productivity in Academia

Studies conducted in several academic environments in both Europe and the USA show that the following resources play a critical role in the creative productivity of academicians (Reitan, 1996). Time is the most valuable resource. There is a “threshold” for needed resources. Above the threshold, there is a weak correlation between available budget and number/quality of publications. In some cases, the correlation between resources and productivity becomes negative, i.e., the more resources the lower the productivity. The positive correlation is improved if resources are used to buy time. There is a stronger correlation between the number of research assistants and productivity. The most important factor is the level of satisfaction with available resources.

Issue #5: Perceived Trends – Limited Questionnaire on Resources

Elsewhere in this report we list results of a comprehensive survey of Georgia Tech academic faculty regarding perceptions of support. As a microcosm of this Institute for this particular bias report, faculty members in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech received a brief questionnaire by e-mail. Twenty-four answers were returned (~50% response rate). Most answers (22/24) addressed personally assigned resources only. Two out of the 24 respondents emphasized the importance of the general resources that are available. Extensive personal, often anecdotal information was provided in the answers. In general, these additional comments indicate high disparity in hiring packages and in individuals' awareness of campus-wide resources. This is particularly the case among young faculty, unless they are being mentored by senior faculty. A summary of the responses follows.

What resources made (or could have made) a difference in your career?

  • Personal: time to think, comfortable personal office, good/convenient childcare, wonderful spouse
  • Environment: good graduate students, great colleagues, office space for graduate students, competent technical support.
  • Young faculty: Most of them highlighted the importance of a good mentor (a full professor with no conflict of interest), who would help identify resources, procedures, and who would guide the young faculty to focus on output to satisfy tenure demands (particularly the experimentalists).
  • Mid-career faculty: Mid-career funds (COE and/or School). Availability of funds (even small amounts) to try/explore new things.
  • Others: Sabbatical. Assistance in recruiting the best PhD students.

What resources made no difference in your career?

  • All resources were useful (3-out-of-24 respondents).
  • Administrative support staff.
  • MS students.
  • Despite the strong CETL program, teaching resources do not make much difference unless the P&T/career review process and the general attitude toward teaching changes.
  • Equipment assigned as part of hiring packages for analytical/numerical faculty.
  • Convenient parking.

What are the most important components in hiring packages?

  • Graduate student support (100% respondents).
  • Summer support (most junior faculty)
  • Experimentalists: equipment and space (equal importance to summer and student support)
  • There is high agreement on the characteristics of hiring packages: (1) long-term commitment, such as 1-or-2 students for 3 years; (2) Flexibility in time to optimally spend funds; (3) Flexibility in allocation, not restricted to equipment.
  • Travel support to attend conferences (half of the junior faculty)
  • Related observation: COE hiring packages are significantly smaller than in Science

Are School and Institute wide resources well publicized?

  • Junior faculty: most answered no. They feel that the support system and resources (technology, students, staff, lab space, etc.) are not well defined, easily accessed, or easily utilized. Guidelines to maneuver through the system (and the P&T processes) are fuzzy at best.
  • Senior faculty reflected a more positive attitude.
  • Procedures used to allocate matching funds are a mystery and seem to change continuously without any notification.
  • Individuals, groups and the School need to identify and pursue the vast, Campus-wide resources with a clear strategy, in an open and aggressive manner.

What is the impact of space availability?

  • Experimentalists: all highlighted the critical importance of space.
  • Analytical/numerical researchers: Less than half of them recognized the importance of space to properly accommodate graduate students. One noticed that space is not the major problem at the beginning of one's career, but it gradually becomes a bigger issue as individual research groups expand.
  • Needed: high degree of flexibility with regard to space, with more emphasis on "from each according to ability, to each according to need."
  • A conveniently located Faculty Club is needed

What strategy/criteria could improve fairness and the optimal distribution of resources?

  • Prevailing criterion 1: Fairness. Fair, but not equal. Applies to startup resources as well.
  • Prevailing criterion 2: Openness (transparency). Openness should breed confidence in the system.
  • Keep decisions competitive (e.g. write a small proposal for mid-career money)
  • No algorithm, but a good, fair, reasonable chair, who looks into needs and not just responds to the most vocal members of the faculty.
  • Allocate to the most promising faculty.
  • A clear understanding of the role and responsibilities of different staff within the School.
  • Hiring people who can use and upgrade existing equipment (quality technical support)
  • Possible: annual redistribution of unused equipment and space.
  • Institute wide support to open new areas and add a new dimension to someone's research (making them more successful). But probably Institute wide support does not really impact whether the individual succeeds or not.

Other comments or experiences?

  • Success is determined mainly by the individual, and is polished by colleagues, graduate students and then other resources
  • Teaching resources should include funds to purchase/upgrade design software (which students will use in professional practice)
  • Mid-career equipment supplement (not a free package but a matching if the faculty gets outside funds).
  • Allocate student support as a supplement. This should be an opportunity rather than an entitlement.
  • Mentoring to help new faculty members to focus on a couple of targeted areas at first, with tangible results as early as possible.
  • Individually assigned resources serve to enhance, refresh, expand, re-invigorate graduate programs.
  • The highly "entrepreneurial" spirit at Georgia Tech has many positive outcomes. Unfortunately, this mentality also encourages a "me, me, me" attitude among faculty towards students, resources, and research areas/activities.


Faculty members tend to overemphasize the relevance of individual resources. In fact, the cumulative relevance of globally available resources (with emphasis on the human resource of colleagues and students) dwarfs individually assigned or generated resources.

Furthermore, individuals often emphasize resources that are not necessarily critical to the development of a long-term academic career. Time is the critical personal resource. Institutions and individuals must seek its proper use.

Universities should attempt to demystify the relevance individually controlled or generated resources, publicize and facilitate access to School and Institute wide resources, promote the value of the human-resource and facilitate on-campus networking.

Requirements in terms of individual resource generation must be clearly stated in the context of P&T to prevent biases. During evaluation, careful consideration should be given to correlated resources-related indicators to prevent inductive conclusions, such as grant size, number of graduated students, and publications.

I.5 Mentoring
By Ronald W. Schafer


Most faculty members agree that advisement and mentoring is important and necessary in the tenure process. Young faculty can benefit from the knowledge of the local system and the general academic scene that experienced senior faculty have acquired during the course of their longer careers. Most young professors have set high career objectives for themselves, and they want to devote their energies to meeting these objectives. However, understanding the requirements for promotion and tenure and the ways of meeting these requirements are often a problem for new faculty. While career objectives and requirements for promotion and tenure are often closely aligned, this may not always be the case. Many young faculty members succumb to the temptation to focus on the aspects of their job that they enjoy the most and tend to neglect other aspects; e.g. focusing on doing the research, but neglecting to publish it. For such reasons, young professors can benefit from the advice and counsel of senior faculty on how to balance personal goals and the requirements of the tenure system.

Issue #1: Implementing the Advising Process

Effective advising and mentoring should be a concern at all levels of the institution. At the Institute and College-level the emphasis should be on communication. This translates into being sure that the requirements for tenure and promotion are clearly stated and well understood by everyone who is evaluating candidates and by the candidates themselves. It is at the School level the most critical issues arise. Young faculty should be well advised from the start of their careers about the tenure and promotion process, and it is here that appropriate mentors should be available. Who is responsible for ensuring that effective advisement and mentoring occurs? The answer is that the unit head, the senior faculty in the School, the unit RPT committee, and the candidate for tenure and promotion are responsible. The unit head and senior faculty should be proactive in offering advice and mentoring, the RPT committee should give frequent feedback to the candidate on their progress, and the candidate should seek advice and counsel from the very beginning of his or her career. Professor Stanley Fish (2002) put it as follows:

“This means, first of all, laying down the tenure procedures and requirements with a clarity that approaches the condition of transparency. These procedures and requirements should not only be published; they should be explained to each junior faculty member at least once a year; and, given that the explanation will be necessarily general and even abstract, its annual repetition must be supplemented by a candid written assessment of the progress the aspiring assistant professor has or has not made.”

Issue #2: Bias and Mentoring

Clearly, advice is good only if it is informed and given with the best interests of the candidate in mind. Bad advice can be very harmful. A policy of no formal advisement is not neutral, because some are naturally more willing and capable of seeking advice. Bias can also enter into the process when some candidates benefit from better advice and support than others. This can be a serious issue for young female faculty in a mostly-male school. Virginia Valian (1999) describes a long-term program at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to deal with bias against women on the faculty of medicine. Some findings were that women were put up for promotion later than men, and they received lower salaries. Reasons for this included evaluators failing to identify qualified women and women not knowing the criteria for promotion. Mentors of males were more likely to relay useful information than mentors of females. Mentors invited males to chair conferences 6 times as often as females. Meetings held in evenings and weekends were a significant bias identified in the study. The importance of this study is that it points out that senior faculty should be very sensitive to the many subtleties in their relationships with both male and female untenured faculty.

Issue #3: To Mentor or Not to Mentor?

Not everyone feels that mentoring should be a standard practice in academic departments. They feel that as long as the process is clearly defined, the burden should fall on the tenure candidate to figure out the system. According to Professor Fish (2002): “`Mentoring,’ I learned, is an intense form of the summer camp buddy-system premised on the bizarre assumption that presumably adult persons who freely choose to go into a profession are under no obligation to find out for themselves how things work.” While this may be an overly-harsh assessment, it does point out that the candidate must ultimately stand on his or her own merits. However, there are many instances where mentoring has paid big dividends. A young female faculty member in ECE (Zhou, 2003) made the following comment about the need for mentoring:

“I have known several faculty members who have left Georgia Tech describing their environments as harsh or hostile. For women faculty members, it can be additionally ‘chilly’. I think having a mentor (either assigned or self-selected) would probably help in many cases, because many of those who left unhappily felt alone or isolated. As Georgia Tech moves higher in various rankings, faculty members will inevitably feel more pressured. I sincerely hope that people will still take time to mentor junior people and not become too wrapped up in their own activities.”

Regarding what a mentor/mentee relationship should be, she said

“A mentor is not a boss, but a coach and a collaborator. Mentoring is not about rescuing the junior person, but about offering the right kind of career advice, nudging her into orbit so she does not stumble and give up. A mentee still has to do the hard work and stand on her own feet to earn respect.”

In general, it is my belief that mentoring relationships work best when a senior and junior person come together naturally because of common research or teaching interests. Assigned mentors often do not work. Even so, unit heads and RPT committees should always be alert for the need and opportunity to encourage mentoring relationships between senior and junior faculty.

Issue #4: Mentor Versus Role Model

It is helpful to draw a clear distinction between an advisor/mentor and a role model. Role models are people whom we admire and perhaps aspire to be like. A mentor could be a role model, but the mentor/mentee relationship should be much closer, and ultimately should be of more value. It is often said that there are not enough good role models for women faculty members, particularly in engineering. Virginia Valian (1999) points out that the concept of role models may be over emphasized and even counter-productive:

“As this book (Why So Slow?) has documented, women are unlikely to succeed by merit alone—because they have to overcome the odds that are in men’s favor. The notion that a successful woman can serve as a role model for others is a hoax, the outcome of which is to make many women feel inferior because they are unable to follow the model. Instead of role models, people need concrete suggestions about how to do their best work and how to maximize the chances that their work will be recognized and rewarded.”

While the value of inspiration should not be minimized in any situation, it is clear that practical advice and counsel can be invaluable to young faculty trying to achieve tenure and promotion.

Issure #5: Senior Faculty Should Not Get Too Close

The academic tenure and promotion process values initiative, independence, and creativity. While senior faculty can provide valuable guidance in many ways, they should take care not to overshadow the contributions of the person that they are mentoring.


In order to ensure the fairness and impartiality of the tenure and promotion process, it is essential that all parties involved have full knowledge of the criteria that are applied and the process whereby tenure and promotion decisions are made. This cannot be achieved by simply publishing a set of rules and guidelines. A proactive approach is required. Candidates should receive yearly assessments of their progress, and they should seek advice at every stage from a person whose wisdom and judgment they respect. Senior faculty should be constantly alert for opportunities to advise and mentor their younger colleagues, and School administrators should be vigilant to ensure that all faculty are getting adequate advising and mentoring.

I.6 Assignment of Service Duties
By Dana Randall


There appears to be a dichotomy in the inequity of committee assignments of women and other minorities in academia. On the one hand, these faculty members often assume a higher service responsibility; on the other hand, they tend to be under-represented on more important committees, especially at the senior level. “Women do more service than men (Carnegie Foundation, 1990)”, “although at low decision-making levels (Bagihole, 1993)” “We explore some underlying factors and implications of each of these (Tharenou, 1994).”

Issue #1: Women and Excessive Committee Services

Women and minorities tend to be on larger numbers of time-consuming committees that are not career advancing. “For example, service on university committees such as personnel, budget, and research award committees can provide invaluable, career-enhancing knowledge, experience, and visibility for leadership skills in even the most highly research-focused research careers.” “While committee experience may be helpful and is required by most universities, too much or the ‘wrong’ type of service may be an obstacle, depending on one’s career aspirations (Fouad, 2000).” Some departments may try to diversify representation on committees by adding women and minorities. Moreover, women and minorities may be given a higher responsibility for informal services like entertaining faculty candidates to give the impression of greater diversity within a department.

Women might be more inclined to volunteer for less appealing committee work. As the problem is stated by Tharenou (1994) “Are women's inability to say no, their less secure positions, their being good organizational citizens, or heads/chairs (sic) not protecting women's research output in the same way as they do men's (and men themselves do)? These are unanswered questions (Tharenou, 1994).” The governance and other service activities that women choose are more likely to be based in helping others than in attaining power (Twale & Shannon, 1996).

Issue #2: Lower Prestige of Service Activities

In addition to the added burden of excessive committee work interfering with other responsibilities, there is a danger that these individuals will be associated with the weaker members of a department.

Respect and recognition are two key issues that were reported by survey results of the ACSP working committee report on The Recruitment and Retention of Women and Minorities in Planning Education (1990). They stated: “Although 83 percent of respondents feel welcomed and valued in their department, there were many comments regarding a lack of respect and recognition for contributions women and faculty of color are making. There seems to be a lack of recognition of the extra assignments which are often given when you are the only, or one of few, women or people of color in your department, school, campus, etc.”

“Departments normally recruit faculty who can successfully compete for grants. Tenure considerations will include assessments of teaching ability, but this is an elastic requirement for faculty who are successful researchers. Those whose academic profile is less directed to funded research likely assume a disproportionate responsibility for time-consuming committee assignments, service and representational duties (McCourt, FAUW forum, 1999).”

Issue #3: Committees of Lower Levels of Importance

Women, especially at the senior level, tend to be underrepresented on highly valued and respected committees. The MIT Report, A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT (1999) addresses this issue very specifically: (1) To increase number of women faculty “advise department heads to place senior women faculty on appropriate search committees,” and (2) To improve status of, ensure equity for senior women: Seek out women for influential positions within Department and Institute administrations, including as Heads and as members and Chairs of key committees. Involve tenured women faculty in the selection of administrators, and consult with women faculty to ensure the continued commitment of administrators to women faculty issues.

The MIT report documented differences in salary in the recent past, in amount of nine-month salary paid from grants, in access to space, resources, and inclusion in positions of power and administrative responsibility within departments or within the broader MIT community. Differences resulted in women having less or in their being excluded from important professional opportunities. Interviews with women faculty revealed the tremendous toll that exclusion and marginalization take on their professional and personal lives. Problems appear to increase progressively as women approach the same age as their administrators. The Committee believes that problems flourish in departments where non-democratic practices, including administrative procedures whose basis is known only to a few, lead inevitably to cronyism and unequal access to the substantial resources of MIT.

Junior women faculty members believe that family-work conflicts may impact their careers differently from those of their male colleagues. In contrast to junior women, many tenured women faculty feel marginalized and excluded from a significant role in their departments.

I.7 Committee Assignments
By Paul Benkeser


Most university faculty members serve on several committees at any given time. These assignments can include student thesis committees, departmental committees, and college- and university-level committees. These assignments usually require a significant time investment for faculty and yet they typically do not weigh heavily in promotion and tenure considerations. Most faculty members try to keep such assignments to a minimum to free up time for research and teaching. It is also important to note that some assignments (e.g. promotion/tenure and executive committees) provide the committee member with considerable power and influence over the day-to-day operations of the university.

Issue #1: Lack of Bias Awareness

Many faculty recruitment and promotion/tenure committees are ill informed on the effects of gender and racial biases on the decision-making process leading to hiring and promotion evaluations. These committees should regularly reaffirm their commitment to equitable treatment of women and minority faculty. They should discuss at the beginning of each year the effects of gender and racial biases in the decision-making process leading to hiring and promotion evaluations in order to be self-conscious about their potential implications in these important decisions (Findlen et al., 1998).

Issue #2: Proportional Representation on Committees

Efforts need to be made to accord women and minorities proportional representation on committees. Given the small numbers of women and minority faculty at Georgia Tech (like Stanford and MIT), many decision-making bodies do not include members of these groups. While gender and race do not necessarily predispose one to awareness about equity issues, when only a single member of an under-represented group serves on a committee and is concerned about these issues, it can be harder for that person to feel comfortable expressing these concerns related to group identity (Findlen et al., 1998; MIT report, 1999).

Issue #3: Token Gender/Minority Representation

Women and ethnic minorities are often asked to serve as advisors to women and minority students, raising their advising loads considerably; and they are often asked to serve as token representatives of their groups on university committees. These tasks divert time from scholarly productivity and are not rewarded in ways that support the careers of those who serve (Findlen et al., 1998).

Issue #4: Assignment to Influential Committees

Despite improvement in recent years, faculty women at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign are much less likely than faculty men to be members of influential committees or to receive awards in the form of endowed chairs and professorships (UIUC report, 1999).

I.8 Research Teaming and Interdisciplinary Collaboration
By Marie Thursby

Issue #1: Multi-authored Research Articles

The dramatic growth in multi-authored papers since 1990 is well documented (Science Watch, 1995; Chronicle of Higher Education, 1995). Peer review of an individual’s coauthored research can be difficult, in large part, because the allocation of work effort and creativity is unobservable. Recent research in management has examined the extent to which free-riding is a problem in coauthored research, how free riding is related to the number of coauthors, rank, and the order of authorship. Not surprisingly, the problem is positively related to the number of coauthors and the rank of authors and negatively related to order of authorship. Findings of this research are consistent with the view that the likelihood of repeat co-authorship declines with free riding (Bennett & Kidwell, 2000).

While procedures for tenure and promotion generally ask that authors of multi-authored papers self-report their role in the research, there are clear incentives for misreporting. This gives rise to the frequent use of mechanisms, such as order of authorship and repeat authorship as signals (hence the interest of the research cited above).

The bottom line, however, is that there is potential for bias in external evaluation to the extent that such signals are imperfect.

Issue #2: Multidisciplinary Research

For a variety of reasons, the issues of credit allocation for individuals engaged in team research increase for multidisciplinary projects. Consider, for example, the order of authors as a signal of work effort. As conventions for listing authors vary across disciplines, use of this signal is “quite troublesome.” This is one of the issues identified by the “RPT Best Practices Report” of the ad hoc committee appointed by the Georgia Tech’s Executive Board in 2000.

There is additional potential for bias in multidisciplinary research as research methods and credentials for evaluating research vary markedly across disciplinary fields. This is a problem in evaluating research in subfields within disciplines (Jarley et al., 1998), and the potential across disparate disciplines is more serious.

A forthcoming paper in the American Journal of Evaluation by Irwin Feller discusses the issues, noting that in disciplines where research is “problem oriented” such as engineering, multidisciplinary research may be viewed more positively than in many science disciplines (including social sciences) where research issues tend to be more structured along methodological lines. In the latter disciplines, many departments will not see multidisciplinary research as contributing to the reputation of the department.

Many university promotion and tenure guidelines explicitly state procedures to be used when the candidate’s research is multidisciplinary. The guidelines typically amount to a statement that evaluators from the relevant disciplines can be involved in the process.

Some university administrations state that every effort will be made not to inhibit multidisciplinary research of junior faculty (Ray, 2001). A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education discusses problems in agency review of interdisciplinary proposals (Brainard, 2002).

I.9 Publication and Presentation Venues
By Douglas Allen


In both the United States and abroad, substantial gender disparities exist in the composition of university faculties (Lotte Bailyn et al, 2002). By nature, a university is a complex and diverse institution. At its core, the strength of the university lies in its ability to systematically organize and transmit a corpus of thought and knowledge to the world. As such, it is in the interest of the public that universities strive to maintain high standards of scholarship and research productivity by their faculties. At the same time, an individual faculty member’s contribution to knowledge is directly related to the ability of the university to allow unrestricted intellectual growth and development within the individual pursuit of knowledge. As such, a balance must be struck between the interests of the university as a whole, and the interests of each individual faculty member. The work of the individual professor is of consequence, however, only to the extent that it is understood by others. It is the expectation of every faculty member that they will engage in scholarly research, and that the findings of this research will be published.

Within the diversity of disciplines embodied in the university, however, it is difficult to maintain a single model of scholarly activity. Too often the processes by which standards of excellence are implemented, and the work of an individual faculty member is judged, may carry bias. This is especially significant when considering substantial differences in gender and ethnicity in the composition of faculties across disciplines, when the products of intellectual activity vary (Agrawal et al., 2003).

For the tenure process to operate it must be as clear and as fair as possible. However, where promotion and tenure policies and criteria are written, clear, and available to everyone, the university must nevertheless engage in a process that is consistent and fair across all levels of review. In the majority of cases, the courts have been overwhelmingly reluctant to judge the appropriateness of the criteria used to evaluate a faculty member’s creative work. Rather, the courts have raised issues of fairness in the processes by which the criteria have been applied (Leslie Craine v. Trinity College, 2002).

It is incumbent upon the university to recognize that scholarship is necessarily of differing kinds. No single model of research or scholarly activity should prevail at the expense of broadening and deepening the educational experience of the student, and the expansion of knowledge both within and across fields of knowledge. In all cases, the criteria for assessing the quality of research and scholarly activity should be the extent to which the evidence demonstrates: (1) a contribution to the advancement of knowledge or creative expression, (2) the enhancement of quality in the development of a field of knowledge and professional practice, (3) a contribution to teaching effectiveness, and (4) an acknowledged respect by one's professional peers at a national and international level.

Issue #1: Widely Distributed, Clearly Written Criteria

For the promotion and tenure process to be fair, there must be clearly written criteria, widely distributed, and well understood by both candidates and reviewing bodies. While the specifics of the criteria may, of necessity, differ from one unit to the next, they must conform to a wider governing document that constitutes such criteria at the Institute-level. At Georgia Tech this is Section 3.2 of the Faculty Handbook ( Pursuant to this, clear criteria must be written for each College and be widely available to faculty and administrators alike.

Issue #2: Unfamiliarity with Publication Venues or Variations of Intellectual Products Across Disciplines

This issue involves the nature of how evaluation committees and reviewing bodies are formed. Given the diversity of intellectual activities essential to the vitality of the university, it is essential that in both the formation of RPT committees and in the larger processes of evaluation, acknowledged leaders from within the specific discipline provide evaluations of the creative work of the individual. The solicitation of such evaluations should strive to place the individual faculty member’s work within the context of its contribution to knowledge within the field.

Issue #3: Application of Criteria and Judgment Across Disciplines

Different disciplines, by their nature, must operate in different intellectual paradigms. As such the public dissemination of knowledge in each discipline or field may operate in entirely different ways. One field may value the publication of books, another peer reviewed conference papers. In some fields, the order of names in jointly published work is significant, yet in others it may be customarily alphabetical. Some fields may disseminate knowledge through musical or artistic performances, others through inventions leading to patents. Written criteria should be broad enough to encompass the entire range of intellectual products represented at the university. RPT committees and other evaluators should adhere to them. Procedures for peer evaluation within a faculty member’s field, whether internal or external, or both, should be incorporated into the tenure process. This is of particular concern where gender disparities are normally present within disciplines and sub disciplines.

Issue #4: Uniformity and Consistency of Application of Criteria for Scholarly Contributions

In most cases, bias involves an abrogation of due process. Regardless of the diversity of criteria, it is the consistency of their application across all levels of evaluation that most ensures fairness.

I.10 Review Committees and Multi-Layer Structure of Review Process
By Douglas Allen and Willie Belton


Most universities, including Georgia Tech, attempt to make the RPT process as transparent and as objective as possible. Fundamental fairness is a foundational principle in any RPT review. Nevertheless, evaluation of faculty for advancement in rank and for tenure calls for judgments to be made as to the significance and quality of the candidate’s work. Potential for bias is clearly present within this process. In an attempt to provide broad-based evaluation most universities employ a multi-level committee process. The method used to form each committee such as appointment, elections etc. provide less ground for bias and inequitable treatment of candidates. Outlined below are points at which bias could potentially enter within committee processes.

Issue #1: Review Committees

In the RPT process, there are several types of reviews. These typically include:

  • Unit head or Program Director review and evaluations
  • School review committees
  • College review committees
  • External (peer) evaluation
  • Peer evaluation of teaching
  • Dean evaluations
  • Provost’s committee evaluation
  • Provost’s evaluation
  • President

Potential for bias conceivably exists at every level of evaluation. On the other hand, bias is most likely to appear through the formation of the various committees. Review committees can be either appointed or elected from the tenured faculty. In some cases, more likely to occur in smaller units, the review committee may well consist of the entire tenured faculty. While bias, per se, is not intrinsic to any of these constitutional forms, potential for bias exists in all.

  • Appointed committees: The purpose of multiple review bodies and recommendations in the RPT process stems from the fundamental concept of fairness. With an appointed review and evaluation committee, there is the possibility that the person who makes the appointments does so with an eye toward the likely outcome of their decision. Thus, an administrator who has authority to appoint review committees could conceivably bias the outcome through the committees’ composition. On the other hand, an administrator may choose to appoint a review committee for the specific purpose of increasing the diversity of viewpoints, and as such may be less likely than an elected body to contain inherent bias.
  • Elected Committees: While elected review committees would seem to provide at least the appearance of fairness, they also contain potential for bias. Historically, women and minorities have been seriously under-represented in tenured faculty positions. Thus, the pool of faculty from which the review committee is elected may not include a single female or minority and as such, these viewpoints may not be represented on the review committee.
  • Faculty as a whole: Smaller units in many universities and in some cases at Georgia Tech have a committee of the whole as the RPT committee. For the reasons outlined above, these review bodies may be subject to bias across the board.

Regardless of how the review committee is formed, potential for bias is present. As time goes on and the diversity of the faculty increases, the elected bodies would clearly have the advantage of fairness.

It is also important to remember that even a committee composed of all one type of individuals (an all-male committee for example) may not necessarily be biased toward any particular candidate. Rather, the focus should be on the process of how the committees are constituted to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, potential for bias is eliminated.

Issue #2: External (Peer) Evaluation

Most, if not all, major research universities depend upon external reviews of a candidate’s scholarly and creative work in the RPT process. There is good reason for this as it would be impossible in most fields to accurately assess this contribution across disciplinary fields. It would be difficult for a mechanical engineer, for example, to assess the significance of the work of a faculty member in music or city planning. Thus, we depend upon external review amongst a peer group. As with the constitutional questions raised with other review bodies, how these external reviewers are chosen and what they are asked to evaluate would seem to contain the most potential for bias. There are several possible models for selecting external peer reviewers:

  • Dean or Program Director/unit head appoints external reviewers.
  • Faculty member selects reviewers
  • Dean/unit head/Director selects half and faculty selects half
  • RPT committee selects reviewers

Issue #3: Benchmarking Peer Institutions

We examined the committee formation processes of seven peer institutions. The group includes the University of Michigan, University of Illinois, the California Institute of Technology, the Pennsylvania State University, Carnegie-Mellon University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University. All information was gathered from published RPT documents found on the website of each institution.

Unit-level RPT Committee:

  • Not clear whether this committee is appointed or elected
  • Generally, no explicit guide-lines for formation are given in the faculty handbook
  • Not clear whether candidates have any input into committee composition
  • Administrators generally have little specific input into committee’s work
  • All committee members must be tenured and cannot cast a vote in cases of higher ranking candidates

College-level Committee:

  • Committee members are generally elected by School or Department faculty
  • The number of members is usually limited by the number of Departments or Schools
  • Candidates generally have little input into committee make-up
  • Deans generally attend proceedings and have only procedural input

Provost/President-Level Committee:

  • Committee is made up of Presidents, Deans, Vice Presidents and distinguished professors
  • Candidates have no input into committee composition
  • Faculty handbook generally does not define or specify procedures of this Committee


The multi-level committee structure attempts to address issues of fairness by including more people and more layers. In effect, this provides a system of checks and balances throughout the process. Though the multi-level committee approach does attempt to rid the process of direct and inappropriate emphasis on individual influence over outcomes, it provides many new avenues for new and subtle forms of bias. The very process used to form committees across all levels can provide fertile ground for bias. For example, across the seven peer institutions it is not clear whether school- or department-level committees are elected or appointed. Depending on the size and make-up of the school or department appointment and election processes are fraught with potential for biased evaluations and/or outcomes.

The multi-level committee process clearly has flaws but appears to perform at least as well as known alternatives. The important factor in the implementation of this approach is that users work diligently to understand and guard against the potential for systematic bias in the very nature and execution of the process.


I.1 Gender: Women in Academic Science and Engineering

Cole, Jonathan R., 1979, Women in the Scientific Community. New York: Free Press.

Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology, 2000, Professional Women & Minorities: A Total Human Resource Data Compendium (13th ed). Washington, DC: CPST.

Dillman, Don, 2000, Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Eldridge, J. E. T. and Crombie, A. D., 1974, A Sociology of Organizations. London: Allen & Unwin.

Evetts, Julia, 1996, Gender and Career in Science and Engineering. London: Taylor and Francis.

Feldt, Barbara, 1985, “An Analysis of Productivity of Non-tenured Faculty Women in the Medical and a Related School.” Ann Arbor; Michigan: The University of Michigan; Office of Affirmative Action.

Feldt, Barbara, 1986, “The Faculty Cohort Study: School of Medicine.” Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan; Office of Affirmative Action.

Fidell, L. S., 1975, “Empirical Verification of Sex Discrimination in Hiring Practices in Psychology.” In Women: Dependent or Independent Variable?, edited by R. K. Unger and F. L. Denmark. New York: Psychological Dimensions.

Fox, Mary Frank, 1991 “Gender, Environmental Milieu, and Productivity in Science.” In The Outer Circle: Women in the Scientific Community, edited by H. Zuckerman, J. Cole, and J. Bruer. New York: W. W. Norton.

Fox, Mary Frank, 1996 “Women, Academia, and Careers in Science and Engineering.” In The Equity Equation: Fostering the Advancement of Women in the Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering, edited by C. S. Davis, A. Ginorio, C. Hollenshead, B. Lazarus, and P. Rayman. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fox, Mary Frank, 1999, “Gender, Hierarchy, and Science.” In Handbook of the Sociology of Gender, edited by J. S. Chafetz. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

Fox, Mary Frank, 2000, “Organizational Environments and Doctoral Degrees Awarded to Women in Science and Engineering Departments.” Women’s Studies Quarterly 28:47-61.

Fox, Mary Frank, 2001, “Gender, Faculty, and Doctoral Education in Science and Engineering.” In Women and Research Universities, edited by L. Hornig. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

Fox, Mary Frank, 2001, “Women, Science and Academia: Graduate Education and Careers.” Gender & Society 15.

Grant, Linda; Kennelly, Ivy; Ward, Kathryn, Spring/summer 2000, “Revisiting the Gender, Marriage, and Parenthood Puzzle in Scientific Careers,” Women’s Studies Quarterly 28:62-85.

Glazer-Raymo, Judith, 1999, Shattering the Myths: Women in Academe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Llewellyn, Donna; Usselman, Marion; and Brown, April, 2001, “Institutional Self Assessments as Change Agents: Georgia Tech’s Two-year Experience.” Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, session 2592.

Long, J. Scott; Allison, Paul; and McGinnis, Robert, 1993, “Rank Advancement in Academic Careers: Sex Differences and the Effects of Productivity.” American Sociological Review 58:703-722.

Long, J. Scott and Fox, Mary Frank, 1995, “Scientific Careers: Universalism and Particularism: Annual Review of Sociology 21:45-71.

Merton, Robert K., 1973, “The Normative Structure of Science.” In his The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations. Chicago: University of, Chicago Press.

Pearson, Willie and Fechter, Alan, 1994. Who will do Science? Educating the Next Generation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Raabe, Phyllis Hutton, 1997, “ Work-Family Policies for Faculty.” In Academic Couples: Problems and Promises, edited by M. A. Ferber and J. W. Loeb. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press.

Rayman, Paula and Stewart, Julie Pearson, 1994, “Reaching for Success in Science: Women’s Uneven Journey.” The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 869:58-65.

Reskin, Barbara, 1978, “Sex Differentiation and the Social Organization of Science.” Sociological Inquiry 48:491-504.

Rosser, Sue V. (ed.), 2000, Building Inclusive Science (vol. 28, Women’s Studies Quarterly), New York: Feminist Press at The City University of New York.

Rosser, Sue V. and Zieseniss, Mireille, 2000, “Career Issues and Laboratory Climates: Different Challenges and Opportunities of Women Engineers and Scientists.” Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 6:1-20.

Rosser, Sue V., 2001, “Balancing: Survey of Fiscal Year 1997, 1998, 1999, POWRE Awardees.” Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 7:1-11.

Rossiter, Margaret, 1982, Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Rossiter, Margaret, 1995, Women Scientists in America: Before Affirmative Action,1940-1972. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Sonnert, Gerhard, 1999, “Women in Science and Engineering.” The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 869:34-57

Valian, Virginia, 1998, Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wulf, William, 2001, “The Declining Percentage of Women in Computer Science: An Academic View.” In Who Will Do the Science of the Future? Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Other web resources on gender issues can be found at

I.2 Race and Ethnicity

Bok, D and WG Bowen. 1998. The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions. Princeton U. Press.

Brown, A, R. Gerhardt, G. May, C. Santamarina, M. Smith, M. Tavares, and B. Wepfer. February 2003. Final report of the College of Engineering Faculty Diversity Study. Georgia Institute of Technology.

Cartledge, G. Cultural Diversity and Social Skills Instruction. Understanding ethnic and gender differences. Research Press, Illinois.

Cokorinos, Lee. 2002. The Assault on Diversity: An Organized Challenge to Racial and Gender Justice.

Nelson, Donna. 2002. Diversity in the Physical Sciences. AWIS.

Rosser, S.V. 2000. Women, Science, and Society. Teachers College Press, NY. Pp. 102-109: Snow Brown and the seven detergents: a meta-narrative on science and the scientific method.

Smith, DG et al. 1996. Achieving Faculty Diversity: Debunking the Myths. Washington, DC. AAC&U.

Wilson, JK. 1995. The Myth of Political Correctness. Durham: 142.

Web Sites:

APAHE (Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education)

“Defining Diversity in Academia,” Academic Affairs, Louisiana State University

Diversity Web

http: //

The Nelson Diversity Surveys (of faculty in science departments)

I.3 Disability

American Association of University Professors, “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure with 1970 Interpretive Comments”,

101st Congress of the United States of America, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, January 23, 1990. Amended as ADA Regulation for Title III, as printed in the Code of Federal Regulations (7/1/94). See also, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

General References: Books

LaNoue, G. R., and B. A. Lee, Academics in Court: The Consequences of Faculty Discrimination Litigation, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1987.

Van Alystyne, W. W. (ed.), Freedom and Tenure in the Academy, Duke University Press, Durham, N.C., 1993.

Web Sites containing useful resources: (policy statements) (policy statements) (Johns Hopkins policies, procedures, and definitions) (useful links) (definitions of reasonable accommodation) (Policies and Procedures) (In addition to policies and procedures, this Syracuse University site contains a reasonable accommodation request form)

Other Resources

The National Council on Disability: (useful reports and links to a large data base of disability related issues)

The National Organization on Disability: (an advocacy group. The web site contains links to a large number of disability related organizations

Georgia Tech’s Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access: (Housed in the College of Architecture, CATEA offers the Tech community, the State of Georgia, and the public at large a wide array of resources. Its two primary missions are A) Development, evaluation, and utilization of assistive technology (technologies or devices designed to allow or improve performance of activities of daily living or work); and B) Design and development of accessible environments (environments, private and public, accessible to all people, including those with disabilities)

I.4 Allocation of Resources

Boice, R.. The New Faculty Member. Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, 2002. 376 pages.

Fish, S., “Somebody Back There Didn’t Like Me,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 13, 2002.

Franks, N.R., “Army ants: A Collective Intelligence,” American Scientist, 77(1989) 2: 138-145.

Long, J. S., Ed. From Scarcity to Visibility, National Research Council, 2001, 311 pages.

Reitan, B., Creativity and Innovation in Research Groups, BVN, Norway, 1986. 135 pages.

Ridley, M., The Origin of Virtue, Viking Penguin Press, UK, 1997. 295 pages.

Tierney, W.G., Ed., The Responsive University, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1998. 182 pages.

I.5 Mentoring

Stanley Fish, “Somebody Back There Didn’t Like Me,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 13, 2002.

Virginia Valian, Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women, MIT Press, Cambridge, Reprint edition (1999).

Guotong Zhou, Georgia Tech College of Engineering, Statement for SUCCEED Faculty Mentoring Award, 2000.

I.6 Assignment of Service Duties

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1990, Women excel as campus citizens, Change, 22, 39-43.

Bagihole, B., “How to keep a good woman down?” British Journal of Higher Education 14 (1993) 3: 261-274.

Tharenou, P., “Commentary: Why So Few Female Senior Academics?” Australian Journal of Management 19 (December 1994) 2.

Fouad, Nayda, et al. Women in Academe: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back. American Psychological Association. 2000

Twale, D. J. and D. M. Shannon, “Professional service involvement of leadership faculty: An assessment of gender, role and satisfaction.” Sex Roles 34 (1996): 117-126.

“The Recruitment and Retention of Faculty Women and Faculty of Color in Planning Education: Survey Results.” Report from the ACSP working Committee on the Recruitment and Retention of Women and Minorities in Planning Education to the ACSP Executive Committee, April 1990.

FAUW Forum (Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo), March 1999. (President's message by Fred McCourt)

“A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT,” 1999.

I.7 Committee Assignments

P. Findlen, E. Freedman, N. Kollmann, C. Ridgeway, M. Roberts, and D. Satz,

“The Status of Women on the Stanford Faculty: Report to the Faculty Senate Spring, 1998.” Available from Accessed October 15, 2002.

“A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT,” The MIT Faculty

Newsletter, vol. XI, no. 4, March 1999. Available from Accessed October 15, 2002.

“The Status of Women Faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,” 1999. Available from Accessed June 23, 2003.

I.8 Research Teaming and Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Bennett, N. and R. Kidwell, “The provision of effort in self-designing work groups: The case of collaborative research,” August 2000.

Brainard, J. “U.S. Agencies Look to Interdisciplinary Science,” Chronicle of Higher Education. June 14, 2002.

“Too Many Co-Authors.” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 28, 1995.

Jarley, P., T. Chandler, and L. Faulk. “Are we playing the same game?: Publishing task environments and research productivity among management specialists,” Human Relations. 1998.

Ray, Edward. Multidisciplinary Initiative. Memo to Deans, Department Chairs, and Center Directors, Ohio State University. October 23, 2001.

“Really big science: Multi author papers multiplying in the 1990s.” Science Watch 6 (1995) 4: 1-2.

I.9 Publication and Presentation Venues

Lotte Bailyn, et al., “A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT”, The MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XI, No. 4, March 1999. and William Schultz, “Gender Bias in European Science”, Chemical and Engineering News, Vol. 80, No. 25, American Chemical Society, June 24, 2002 (a pattern of discrimination against women in science is confirmed by a new study covering 30 European countries).

R. Agrawal, P. Goodwill, N. Judge, M. Sego, A. Williams, “The Shortage of Computer Science Faculty at Stanford University”,

See Leslie Craine v. Trinity College (SC 16557) Supreme Court of Connecticut, March 12, 2002. (The appellate court upheld a verdict in favor of Leslie Craine, Professor of Chemistry at Trinity College. The basis of the decision involved “negligence in the representation of criteria necessary for the award of tenure. As in most such cases, the issue involved due process issues rather than challenges to the criteria themselves. In Professor Craine’s case, she had authored a textbook that was accepted as a “scholarly work” at her third year review, which was discounted as scholarship at her sixth year tenure review. The jury awarded Dr. Craine, 12.7 million dollars in damages.) see also Fisher v. Vassar College, U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, Nos. 1179,1303,2275: August 1994.

“Good Practice in Tenure Evaluation,” American Council on Education, Washington, D.C. 2000. .

Robert M. Diamond and Bronwyn E. Adam, (eds), The Disciplines Speak (volumes I and II), American Association for Higher Education 1995.

Ernest L. Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered : Priorities of the Professoriate, Jossey-Bass, The Carnegie Foundation, October 1997.

Fisher v. Vassar College, U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, Nos. 1179, 1303, 2275: August 1994.

I.10 Review Committees and Multi-Layer Structure of Review Process

Peer Institution information is taken from faculty handbooks at the following websites:

(, ( , (, (, (, (, (

Best Practices Guidelines

J. Scott Long and Mary Frank Fox. "Scientific Careers: Universalism and Particularism." Annual Review of Sociology 21(1995): 45-71.

Veronica Nieva and Barbara Gutek. "Sex Differences in Evaluation." Academy of Management Review 5 (1980): 267-276.