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Past Research Projects

Image of four Texas A&M faculty, including members of the ADVANCE Social Science Studies Team and Evaluation Team at an ADVANCE reception

Social Science Studies Team Projects

During the period of the NSF Grant (2010-2017), six social science studies were conducted in concert with the 12 ADVANCE programs and activities.  The Social Science Studies Team explored Psychologically Healthy Workplace (PHW) practices related to program activities.

Social Science Studies Team Members

Mindy Bergman
Adrienne Carter-Sowell
Kathi Miner
Stephanie Payne
Jyotsna Vaid

Social Science Studies Team Research Assistants

Paula Costa
Samantha January
Vanessa Jean
Nathanael Keiser
Thomas LaGrone
Jessica Walker
Violet Xu

Workplace Climate Change

Three studies were conducted to examine the impact of implicitly biased behavior towards female faculty by faculty, staff, and students on the well-being of women faculty.

(1) Reducing Disrespect: Faculty Perceptions of Incivility from Faculty, Staff, and Students at Texas A&M (Study Lead: Kathi Miner)

The purpose of this study was to assess whether women STEM faculty experiences of disrespect changed after diversity workshops and trainings, including Faculty and Staff Interaction Team (FASIT) Program and the Student Diversity Trainings. The study utilized campus climate surveys.  A faculty climate survey was sent out in 2013 and 2015 in part to assess changes (if any) in faculty experiences of disrespect (i.e. incivility) before and after the implementation of diversity workshops. Paired samples t-tests were run on aggregated department-level incivility. Results showed that the amount of incivility experienced by faculty (in general) from students significantly decreased from a mean of 0.31 in 2013 to a mean of 0.24 in 2015. Faculty experiences of incivility from staff did not significantly change over time but the research team believes that this is because staff to faculty incivility had such a low base rate in 2013. These findings suggest that ADVANCE interventions were most successful at lowering faculty experiences of subtle disrespect from students.

To explore who benefitted the most from ADVANCE-related activities, the research team explored changes in experiences of incivility based on gender and NSF STEM designation.  To do this, all data were aggregated to the department level for men and women for the 2013 and 2015 climate surveys and split by NSF STEM designation. A total of 4 paired samples t-tests were conducted: Men in STEM departments, Men in non-STEM departments, Women in STEM departments, and Women in non-STEM departments. Results showed significant decreases in experiences of incivility for male faculty but not for female faculty. For non-STEM male faculty, experiences of incivility from students decreased significantly from a mean of 0.32 in 2013 to a mean of 0.18 in 2015. There were no other significant findings, suggesting that the interventions had little effect on reducing subtle mistreatment towards women faculty in STEM.

(2) Reducing Student Implicit Biases: Analysis of Course Evaluations at TAMU (Study Lead: Stephanie Payne)

This study is a content analysis of student teaching evaluations that examines whether or not women STEM faculty received less disrespectful comments after a series of ADVANCE-initiated student diversity interventions designed to address issues of implicit bias, prejudices, and sterotypes of women and minorities.  The research team used a text analysis program (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC).

In a review and comparison of student evaluations of faculty for the spring of 2013, it was found that STEM professors rated as more effective (higher) on a 5-point scale were significantly more likely to be described with adjectives associated with demonstrating intellectual excitement (e.g. "enthusiastic," "knowledgeable" and "inspiring") and interpersonal concern (e.g. "concerned," "caring" and "available") than professors rated as less effective (lower).  Effectiveness was not significantly associated with adjectives associated with effective motivation, agentic or communal descriptors. Professor sex was not significantly related to the terms examined. 

(3) Do STEM Women Faculty Receive Lower Course Evaluation Ratings?  A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis (Study Lead: Stephanie Payne)

This study involves a meta-analysis of sex differences among quantitative ratings within student course evaluations. This study probes beyond previous meta-analyses of sex differences in quantitative ratings of faculty by students. It focuses on various proposed moderators including STEM status, interaction of STEM status with faculty sex, student sex, interaction between faculty and student sex, year of study, and study design. This study used two semesters of primary data from TAMU (fall 2013 and spring 2014) . The data was analzyed six different ways, revealing that results differ depending on the analysis chosen. The most appropriate analyses (multilevel) revealed a main effect for faculty sex with female faculty being rated significantly higher than male faculty in both samples. 

Recruitment and Retention

Two studies focused on the nature and level of the relationship between implicit bias toward women and minorities, selection/promotion decisions, and well-being. 

(1) Repairing the Leaky Pipeline: Workshops for Early Career Academics (Study Lead: Kathi Miner)

The primary purpose of this study was to compare the levels of negotiation self-efficacy for women who participated in a Roadmap Workshop compared to matched non-attendees. After participants completed the workshop, they were asked to take part in a 3-wave longtiduinal study assessing their negotiation self-efficacy and demographics. The research team also included measures of the women's interpersonal work experiences, attitudes, and well-being. Participants were also asked to nominate a female colleague of their similar rank to participate in the study; these nominated colleagues then served as matched controls.  The sample included 110 women who completed at least one survey (69% were White, 11% Asian, 8% Hispanic/LatinX, 7% Black/African-American, 3% Multicultural/Multiracial; and 1% Native American; 22 women did not report their race/ethnicity). The sample included postdoctoral researchers (34%), assistant professors (61%), and visiting professors (2%). The sample included a mix of internal (52%) and external (48%) participants, as well as a mix of participants (75%) and nominees (25%).

The hypothesis was that women who participated in the workshop would have higher levels of negotiation self-efficacy compared to women who did not attend the workshop. A t-test was conducted to test this hypothesis. Results revealed significant differences between participants and nominees on several variables of interest, including negotiation self-efficacy, knowledge of academia, experiences of ostracism from female and male colleagues, and perceptions of climate. However, workshop participants on average showed lower levels of negotiation self-efficacy (disconfirming the hypothesis), less knowledge, and held more negative perceptions of climate than their nominee counterparts. Workshop participants also showed higher levels of ostracism from both males and females in comparison to those who did not participate in the workshop. These findings suggest that the workshops had a negative effect on early career female academics.  It is possible that the women who chose to attend the workshop were somehow different from non-attendees to start (e.g. less confident about being an academic).

(2) Increasing Equity in the Faculty Selection Process: The TAMU STRIDE Program (Study Lead: Mindy Bergman)

The objective of this study was to determine whether attitudes and knowledge changed due to STRIDE training, and to determine what behaviors were engaged in on search committees. The purpose of this study is to see if STRIDE training increases knowledge of equal opportunity laws and decreases implicit and explicit gender biases. The study design was a pre-/post-/post-test, with trainees taking a survey during the week prior to the workshop, the week following the training, and 3-9 months following the workshop. Although 148 people completed the first survey, very few respondents completed both of the post-surveys. Only data from the first post-survey was used to analyze within-person changes. This analysis indicated that there was no statistically significant  change in attitudes and beliefs after the STRIDE workshop along several dimenstions - Social Dominance Orientation, Hostile Ambivalent Sexism, Beliefs about Lack of Diversity in the Profession, Gender Equality among Faculty, and Diversity Practices in Searches.  A second analysis used a between-persons perspective to analyze the data across the three surveys. The results indicated a significant increase in the use of good search practices and a significant reduction in the belief that academia is diverse. Both of these findings suggest that STRIDE is having the expected and desired effects on people's attitudes and behaviors.

Success Enhancement

One study focused on the impact of development and training opportunities tailored to women faculty on the negative effects of implicit gender-based biases.

(1) Advancing Women into Leadership Positions: Effectiveness of the Administrative Fellows Program (Study Lead: Mindy Bergman)

The goal of this study was to develop a thick-description case study of women entering academic leadership and administration for the first time via a part-time, short duration position. The research questions focused on the changing beliefs and expectations of Fellows throughout their first year in administration, the fit of the position into the administrative unit (as part-time, short-term administrative positions are unusual at Texas A&M), and the effect on a variety of psychologically healthy workplace outcomes (e.g. work-life balance) and career trajectories as a typical faculty member (e.g. research productivity, student mentoring). All Administrative Fellows were interviewed at three points during their first year of appointment (beginning, middle, end). Additionally, the sponsor of the position (i.e. the unit lead) as well as several peers and support staff were interviewed at the beginning and end of the first year of each Fellow's appointment.

More than 60 interviews were conducted, with 10 fellows, their co-workers, and hosts. The study examines academic leadership expectations of men and women leaders as reported by hosting members and Fellows. Fellows (all female) reported that they needed to learn to not take things personally and to learn about the network of people in administration who could help them navigate their new role.  Although both male and female hosting members acknowledged that the same behaviors exhibited by women in administrative roles are perceived differently than men in administrative roles, most female hosting members stressed the importance of women taking ownership of their administrative roles, being assertive, and feeling empowered in their roles, particularly when others try to control the situation. Meanwhile, male hosting members tended to believe that women do not need to learn anything differently than men, that women tend to have some skills that men do not (e.g. organizational and conflict management skills), or that women need to refrain from reinforcing stereotypes about being overly emotional to perform effectively in their roles. The analyses from the Associate Professor Fellows indicated an additional theme of concern or pressure from others (not the Fellows themselves) about making progress to Full Professor.