Women's Ways of Engagement: Explorations of gender, the scholarship of engagement and institutional rewards policy and practice.
Document Type Dissertation
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the promotion and tenure experiences of women faculty who carry out community-engaged scholarship. Purposive sampling of women faculty members nationwide who received national recognition for their work as community-engaged scholars was conducted. In depth semi-structured interviews, personal written scholarship narratives, written personal promotion and tenure narratives and other written documents provide the oral and written data analyzed in this study. Feminist theory guides this study. More specifically, the works of Reinharz (1992), Naples (2003), Belenky and colleagues (1986, 1997) guide this study’s exploration into feminist methods, methodology, and epistemology and the areas of women’s work in the academy, their power—both real and perceived—within the existing institutional culture of higher education and how the experiences of these women community-engaged scholars align with institutional cultures as evidenced through promotion and tenure structures and practice. This study addresses current understanding that the developing field of the scholarship of engagement requires 1) an exploration of the experiences of women faculty who carry out community-engaged scholarship, 2) an examination of individual faculty work alongside institutional contexts that support and/or hinder that work, and 3) a development of a theoretical model that helps us understand individual faculty work of community-engaged scholarship within the larger institutional contexts of U.S. higher education. Examining the intersections and alignments between individual faculty community-engaged work and their respective institutional contexts is an emerging field of study, and women faculty members’ experiences with community-engaged scholarship has not before now been researched. Bringing both together, and developing a theory of community-engaged scholarship grounded in the experiences of women faculty community-engaged scholars bridges the fields of feminist and engaged scholarships and advances the field of the scholarship of engagement in terms of developing theoretical underpinnings necessary to strengthen its own foundation as a developing field. The study’s major findings include the following: First, that women’s community-engaged scholarship is deeply rooted in her identity and that gender is an influence but is one dimension of the faculty member’s choice to carry out community-engaged scholarship. Second, epistemology is a characteristic present in all three aspects of the community-engaged scholar’s identity— personal, professional, and civic. Third, characteristics of women’s ways of engagement correlate to aspects of Women’s Ways of Knowing. This study contributes to the field of the scholarship of engagement through the development of a theoretical schema of women’s ways of engagement.