The influence of gender on the careers of women theatre faculty in higher education : a qualitative investigation
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Researchers have long documented issues with gender equity in higher education, especially in STEM fields, but less attention has been directed to gender equity in fields that fall under humanities and fine arts--including theatre, where women have already achieved greater equity in terms of their presence in the field. Assuming gender parity based on numbers, however, is problematic, leaving out the opportunity for understanding how overarching institutional structures impact the experience of individual women. Employing narrative inquiry, this study explored the experiences of fifteen, Ph.D. holding tenure track or tenured women theatre faculty at research institutions through in-depth, semi-structured interviews. This study found there is a subtlety and pervasiveness to sexism and gender bias that can function differently in departments of theatre and based on one's status/rank. The participants felt that the respect given to their man counterparts was not equally given to them. These women theatre faculty felt the need to change appearance and personality to be the part of professor, as professor is not traditionally “woman.” Additionally, women are doing the carework at home and work, and the unpaid burden of service and emotional labor that is put on women theatre faculty affects their productivity. The findings identified that women theatre faculty need support systems in both colleague relationships and in their personal lives, and work/life balance and professional environment are key factors in working in the profession. The findings show that through resiliency, women theatre faculty find their own ways to succeed in a system that works for them. It also shows that women are aware of how their needs are different from the normative expectations of the academic work environment.
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