Cundiff, J. L., C. L. Danube, M. J. Zawadzki, and S. A. Shields. 2018. “Testing an Intervention for Recognizing and Reporting Subtle Gender Bias in Promotion and Tenure Decisions.” Journal of Higher Education 89 (5): 611–636.
Under the premise that gender bias is ubiquitous within the academy, the authors developed an experiment to examine the effectiveness of an intervention designed to enable participants to recognize and report gender bias in promotion and tenure decisions. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions. In the first condition, participants experienced the intervention, the Workshop Activity for Gender Equity Simulation in the Academy (WAGES-Academic; Shields et al. 2011), a “gamelike simulation of subtle sexism in the academic workplace” (p. 618). In the second condition, participants received information on gender equity in the workplace but did not participate in the simulation. In the third condition, participants played a modified version of Chutes and Ladders. This part of the experimental design was intended to “be similar to WAGES in terms of engagement and the active-learning format but without information about subtle sexism” (p. 619). The study took place in two phases in order to assess the two outcomes: recognizing and reporting gender bias. Results from the study indicated that WAGES participants were statistically more likely to recognize and report gender bias.
DISCUSSION OF THE FINDINGS
WAGES participants also were better at reporting gender bias in promotion and tenure materials when compared to participants in the control conditions. To assess reporting, the authors asked participants to anonymously respond yes or no to the following statement: “I have concerns that this review was unfair and would like to officially report my concerns to the committee” (p. 622). Not only did the authors find that WAGES participants were more likely to report these concerns, but they also found that participants were statistically more likely to report blatant expressions of sexism, when compared with subtle or no forms of sexism.
IMPLICATIONS FOR ACTION BY CAMPUS LEADERS
About the Authors
Cinnamon L. Danube is principal analyst, Institutional Research and Decision Support, at the University of California, Merced.
Matthew J. Zawadzki is assistant professor, Health Sciences and Research Institute, at the University of California, Merced.
Stephanie A. Shields is professor of psychology and women’s studies at Pennsylvania State University.
Literature Readers May Wish to Consult
O’Meara, K., A. Kuvaeva, G. Nyunt, R. Jackson, and C. Waugaman. 2017. “Asked More Often: Gender Differences in Faculty Workload in Research Universities and the Work Interactions That Shape Them.” American Educational Research Journal 54: 1154–1186.
Shields, S. A., M. J. Zawadzki, and R. N. Johnson. 2011. “The Impact of the Workshop Activity for Gender Equity Simulation in the Academy (WAGES-Academic) in Demonstrating Cumulative Effects of Gender Bias.” Journal of Diversity in Higher Education 4: 120–129.
Workshop Activity for Gender Equity Simulation (WAGES). College of the Liberal Arts, Penn State University.