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National Science Foundation funds University of Houston $2M for promotion and tenure outcomes research

Jessica Yang

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University of Houston Newsroom

The National Science Foundation has granted a team of academics led by the University of Houston (UH) funds worth $2 million to shed new light on what drives promotion and tenure outcomes in academic environments.

The study arises from the need to investigate and discover solutions to the bias of professors with different backgrounds who are disproportionately underrepresented in terms of tenure and promotion, especially women and minority groups.

UH takes the case to be researched by collaborating with eight other institutions: Hampton University, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, University of Alabama, Louisiana State University, Texas A&M University, Lehigh University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Rice University.

“We are hoping this work will continue to contribute to increased representation of faculty of color and women in mid-career and senior faculty positions by showing how transparent and fair promotion and tenure processes can be achieved,” said Christiane Spitzmueller, project main investigator and UH psychology professor.

The team will study hundreds of external evaluation letters while protecting confidentiality through data-sharing agreements between the nine universities using an automated linguistic analysis software tool. They will also use cutting-edge computational social science work. Peggy Lindner, an assistant professor at the UH College of Technology, will lead the study.

“This work is critical for not only the evolution of academia but also the future of the country’s STEM workforce. Students of color benefit greatly and are more likely to pursue science careers if they have access to diverse faculty members who share and understand their lived experiences,” said co-PI Erika Henderson, UH’s Associate Provost for Faculty Recruitment, Retention, Equity, and Diversity.

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