August is typically a bit of a feeding frenzy for the forming and filling of committees with participants. I've received numerous requests in the couple of weeks from committee chairs with invitations to spend various amounts of time doing university or professional service work.
I said yes to two. I am cycling off some other committees, so I felt I could take on some new ones. I said no to the rest.
I have a pretty good sense for what I can take on and what would be too much, though sometimes it's hard to tell just how much time a particular committee or other service activity can take. And of course some service activities can fill all the time you have if you let them. Deciding what is worthwhile and learning how to balance time spent on service vs. research vs. teaching are things you figure out with experience (and/or good mentoring early on if you're lucky).
One positive aspect of being such a popular target for committee membership is that I have options. I can pick the ones that look like they might be interesting and a potential good use of my time. And, since I am doing a fair amount of service work, I don't feel (too) bad about saying no to the others, though I sympathize with the committee chairs who are trying to round up volunteers.
In the past 10 years or so, I have been on at least 6 university-level committees, some for 3-year terms, and I just got invited to be on two more; I said yes to one and no to the other. My husband has never been asked to be on any committee above the department level.
Of course there are many Male Science Professors who do a lot of committee work; I have never been on a committee with more women than men. Even so, that's what he gets for being a dime-a-dozen MSP -- he is much more likely to be a committee wallflower, uninvited and uncommitteed.
6 months ago