ERIC Identifier: ED355859
Publication Date: 1992-09-00
Author: Tack, Martha W. - Patitu, Carol L.
Clearinghouse on Higher Education Washington DC.| BBB27915 _ George Washington
Univ. Washington DC. School of Education and Human Development.
Faculty Job Satisfaction: Women and Minorities in Peril. ERIC
Until relatively recently, most research about job satisfaction was completed
in the industrial sector, with attempts often made to adapt findings to higher
education. Given the impending shortage of prospective faculty to fill the
numerous vacancies that will exist by 2000, the topics of job satisfaction for
faculty, recruitment, and retention must be given priority attention. Further,
the faculty of the future must reflect the diversity of the population to be
served by colleges and universities; consequently, immediate actions must be
taken to ensure that the faculty position is attractive to women and minorities
WHO WILL FILL FUTURE FACULTY POSITIONS IN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES?
Beginning in 2000 and continuing for several decades, a
serious shortage will exist of persons to fill vacant faculty positions, with
women and minorities clearly underrepresented in a variety of disciplines. Only
a few minorities are now in the academic pipeline, and women and minorities who
complete the doctorate often choose other occupations because they do not view
the faculty position as a viable career choice. Clearly, salaries lag behind
those offered by other professions, the faculty position does not command the
revered status it once did, and many current faculty are dissatisfied with their
choice of career. Unquestionably, such problems will dramatically affect the
ability of colleges and universities to attract, nurture, develop, and retain
women and minority faculty (Jones and Nowotny 1990). Consequently, institutional
officials and current faculty in higher education must recognize the factors
that lead to job dissatisfaction among faculty and eliminate them; conversely,
they must recognize the factors that increase job satisfaction and enhance them.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE STRESSORS THAT AFFECT WOMEN AND MINORITY FACULTY MEMBERS?
Internal stressors on faculty include achievement and
recognition for achievement, autonomy, growth and development, the quality of
students, the reputation of the institution and one's colleagues,
responsibility, the interaction between students and teachers and its effect on
students' learning, and the work itself. Factors in the workplace that prevent
job dissatisfaction describe relationships to the context or environment in
which individuals work, representing such variables as interpersonal
relationships, salary, tenure, policies and administration, rank, supervision,
working conditions, the "fit" between the faculty role and the person involved,
and collective bargaining. Life-style stressors usually have a more dramatic
effect on women than men because of societal norms about the priority women
should place on their families. The list of life-style stressors is enormous but
includes such items as child care, elder care, and physical as well as mental
health; in addition, demands from the family and household, such as marriage and
children, dual-career/commuting marriages, and domestic responsibilities,
dramatically affect the satisfaction and productivity of women faculty.
ARE WOMEN DISGRUNTLED WITH THEIR FACULTY POSITIONS?
faculty members are less satisfied with their positions than their male
counterparts. Today, women represent a small percentage of the faculty cohort,
make lower salaries than their male colleagues, are found in the lower
professorial ranks, are often employed in part-time rather than full-time
positions, represent disciplines typically reserved for females, work in less
prestigious institutions, feel that their supervisors do not value their input,
and are not tenured.
It also appears that women enjoy and engage in teaching more often than
research; interestingly, women must handle heavier teaching loads, a limitless
number of student advisees, and more than their fair share of committee
assignments while trying to carve out sufficient time for research and writing.
In addition, women faculty have to prove themselves over and over again before
they can be accepted by their colleagues and achieve recognition.
In addition to these issues, women are bombarded with life-style stressors
that add unnecessary restrictions to their ability to achieve success in
academe. In most instances, a woman faculty member gives up her own personal
time to handle the demands associated with being a mother, wife, domestic
servant, care giver for elderly parents, friend, colleague, author, invited
speaker, researcher, teacher, committee member, and so on (Aisenberg and
Harrington 1988). In effect, when a woman accepts a faculty position, she is
really accepting a second or third job!
Clearly, if more women faculty are to be attracted to higher education and
those who are currently employed are to remain, something must be done to
enhance job satisfaction. Moreover, support services must be in place to help
women balance the often conflicting demands of work and life. Unless changes are
made in the way faculty work is completed, in the rewards associated with the
professoriate, and in the way institutions help people deal with personal
obstacles, women faculty could indeed become an endangered species in most
"The problem is more significant than simply bringing more women into the
university. If we can solve the conflict between work and family, everyone will
benefit and it is likely that more women will enter and stay in academe. The
well-being of the university depends on its ability to recruit and retain a
talented professoriate. Our national well-being depends on our ability to
develop a happy, emotionally healthy, and productive next generation" (Hensel
1991, p. 79).
HOW SATISFIED ARE MINORITY FACULTY WITH THEIR FACULTY
When minority faculty are employed in institutions of higher
education, some things are certain. When compared to their white counterparts,
they are less likely to be tenured, are concentrated in the lower academic
ranks, are often concerned about low salaries, feel isolated and unsupported at
work, and often encounter prejudice, discrimination, and a continuing climate of
racism. They are also often overburdened with student advising and counseling
and institutional or community service. Unquestionably, these problems must be
addressed if the number of minority faculty on college and university campuses
is to increase (Silver, Dennis, and Spikes 1988).
CAN ANYTHING BE DONE TO INCREASE THE JOB SATISFACTION, RECRUITMENT, AND RETENTION OF WOMEN AND MINORITY FACULTY?
faculty in higher education must implement a variety of recruiting and retention
strategies if a faculty representing a diverse culture is to become a reality.
Conventional (or traditional) approaches must be combined with fresh,
extraordinary strategies, and long-term and short-term plans are necessary.
Planning must begin with the enrollment of minorities into undergraduate and
graduate programs in decent numbers so they can eventually enter the pool for
faculty positions; women must be attracted into disciplines where they are
currently underrepresented. Institutions must include incentives for departments
to diversify (for example, positions restricted to minority and women
candidates, money to provide competitive salaries, and overt rewards for
success). A variety of institutions have applied successful strategies.
Clearly, the way colleges and universities recruit, retain, and reward women
and minority faculty must radically and immediately change. Only then will the
talents of women and minority faculty be unleashed, and only then will higher
education be appropriately equipped to respond to the needs of a constantly
Aisenberg, N., and M. Harrington. 1988. Women of
Academe: Outsiders in the Sacred Grove. Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press.
Green, M., ed. 1989. Minorities on Campus: A Handbook for Enhancing
Diversity. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education.
Hensel, N. 1991. Realizing Gender Equality in Higher Education: The Need to
Integrate Work/Family Issues. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 2.
Washington, D.C.: The George Washington Univ., School of Education and Human
Development. ED 338 128. 122 pp. MF-01; PC-05.
Jones, L., and F. Nowotny, eds. 1990. An Agenda for the New Decade. New
Directions for Higher Education No. 70. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Justus, J.B., S.B. Freitag, and L.L. Parker. 1987. The University of
California in the Twenty-First Century: Successful Approaches to Faculty
Diversity. Los Angeles: Univ. of California.
Silver, J., R. Dennis, and C. Spikes. 1988. Black Faculty in Traditionally
White Institutions in Selected "Adams" States: Characteristics, Experiences, and
Perceptions. Atlanta: Southern Education Foundation. ED 299 891. 151 pp. MF-01;
Washington, V., and W. Harvey. 1989. Affirmative Rhetoric, Negative Action:
African-American and Hispanic Faculty at Predominantly White Institutions.
ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 2. Washington, D.C.: Association for the
Study of Higher Education. ED 316 075. 128 pp. MF-01; PC-06.
This ERIC digest is based on a new full-length report in the ASHE-ERIC Higher
Education Report series, prepared by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education
in cooperation with the Association for the Study of Higher Education, and
published by the School of Education at the George Washington University.