NOW YOU KNOW:Faculty stress

Thursday, March 3, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:56 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

What was learned: An MU study found stressors to women on the faculty affect them more acutely than men and proposed ways to reduce stress for women.

How they did it: Jennifer Hart, assistant professor in the department of educational leadership and policy analysis at MU, and Christine Cress, a continuing education professor at Portland State University, sent surveys to, and composed focus groups of, faculty members from a large university in the Southwest (unidentified for these purposes) to evaluate each person and gauge stressors in his or her areas of scholarship.

The subjects were asked to consider three factors in their response: factors contributing to stress, factors hindering or impeding success, and recommendations for change. The results were combined with survey responses from a similar study conducted at the same university by the Higher Education Research Institute.

Hart and Cress found that women were more affected than men by teaching, students, professional expectations, occupational upward mobility and committee work. They suggested supporting the hiring of more women in departments with a small number of women faculty, teaching search committees information about newer research areas, and reviewing faculty teaching and service duties on a yearly basis.

Why it matters: Hart postulated that a stress-filled workplace is a cause for lack of confidence, absenteeism, depression and decreased productivity.

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