Epistemic Exclusion and Cultural Taxation in the Promotion and Tenure Process: Implications for the Career Advancement of Marginalized Faculty

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For marginalized faculty (e.g., underrepresented minorities, women), research tendencies that stray from disciplinary norms and standards of “mainstream research” place them at risk of experiencing epistemic exclusion by having their scholarship devalued in the evaluative content of external review letters (ERLs), posing issues for surviving the rough path to tenure. Furthermore, they experience cultural taxation through increased expectations to engage in mentorship and service roles without guidance on how these non-academic roles may affect their P&T success. I contribute to the epistemic exclusion literature by examining whether external reviewers without direct ties to the faculty members harshly evaluate their research production. Additionally, I contribute to the cultural taxation literature by assessing whether the taxing expectations of marginalized faculty to assume mentorship and service roles affect career outcomes. Data was collected on 1651 P&T candidates from five academic institutions and 9479 external review letters. There was no evidence of sub-group differences based on ethnicity on the prevalence of language on epistemic exclusion, mentorship, or service in the linguistic content of external review letters. The devaluation of research in ERLs is associated with unfavorable P&T outcomes. Furthermore, for candidates seeking promotion to associate professor, receiving mentorship language is associated with favorable voting outcomes, while receiving service language is associated with unfavorable voting outcomes. Finally, I make recommendations for academic professionals aiming to have successful P&T outcomes regarding research, mentorship, and service.

epistemic exclusion, cultural taxation, promotion and tenure