The Faculty Workload and Rewards Project is the first project of its kind to systematically tackle the biggest problems facing academic departments regarding faculty work. Namely, this project engages departments in understanding (a) the complex and varied nature of what faculty do (b) the perception, and in some cases fact that workload is unfairly distributed in departments and why and how that happens (c) the need for greater efficiency and flexibility to ensure manageable workloads and (d) the alignment of faculty work and rewards.

Departments that participate in this project will walk away with better ability to explain to administrators and the public the range of department faculty work activities, why this work is important, and the mechanisms that replicate and reproduce unfair workloads. Departments will study their own faculty workload data and design their own systems to make workload transparent and equitable.

For over 30 years, national surveys have shown women and under-represented minority faculty are dissatisfied with workload; departments that increase transparency and accountability for equity are more likely to retain women and under-represented minority faculty. Because research is valued more than service and teaching in many academic reward systems, spending more time on campus service, teaching, and mentoring may perpetuate inequality between men and women. These systemic inequities in workload have been identified as central to women faculty’s lower tenure and promotion rates, longer time to promotion to full professor, and greater career dissatisfaction.

NSF has invested in the Faculty Workload and Rewards Project as a national demonstration project, to contribute to conversations on equity in teaching and service workload; participating departments will be in on the ground floor of new innovative reforms in faculty workload organization within state higher education systems.