The importance of collegial networks to college and university faculty

Jeffrey F. Milem, Joe Sherlin, Laura Irwin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Based on the findings of some studies that examine the relationship between marital status and productivity for women academics, some authors suggest that single women are at a greater relative disadvantage regarding measures of faculty career success (tenure, rank, salary, publication productivity) than are women who are married.1 In explaining these findings, the authors suggest that at least part of the differences in productivity can be explained by the tendency for women academics to marry other academics. Specifically, the authors suggest that having an academic spouse or partner conveys certain advantages to women faculty that are not available to women who do not have a spouse or partner who is an academic. The authors argue that one reason academic women with a male academic partner have an advantage over women without a male academic partner is because their partner is able to facilitate access to other colleagues and/or collegial networks to which they might not otherwise have access. In tum, access to collegial networks facilitates greater career advancement for these women. Astin and Davis (I985b) presented this argument when they said: women without a male partner may be more likely to be excluded from the “boys�? network, important connections and critical information. Academic women who are married have fewer obstacles to the social networking and collegiality that plays such an important role in facilitating productivity in academe. (99) This line of thinking argues that social support networks and specifically colleagues and collegial networks playa critical role in facilitating career success in the academy. While many scholars who study the field of higher education have identified the significance of collegiality as a facilitator of career success,2 there remains much that we can learn regarding the “hows�? and “whys�? of this process. It is important to note that, with a few notable exceptions, the majority of studies portray male-female partner relationships as the norm, and largely ignore the diversity of partner relationships within academe. The lack of attention given to gay and lesbian academic partnerships and their relationship to collegiality and collegial networks represents a significant gap in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWorking Equal
Subtitle of host publicationCollaboration Among Academic Couples
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781135697907
ISBN (Print)081533544X, 9780815335450
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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