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Elements Of The Work Environment That Contribute To The Ability Of Engineering Faculty To Manage Work Life Tensions

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Perspectives for Women Faculty

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.593.1 - 12.593.11



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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Creamer Virginia Tech

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Elizabeth Creamer is a Professor of Educational Research and Evaluation and Director of Research and Assessment for the ADVANCE VT project at Virginia Tech. She is the co-PI or PI of over $1.5 million in grants from the National Science Foundation that address issues of women's under-representation in science and engineering. She teaches graduate courses in mixed methods and qualitative research methods.

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Margaret Layne Virginia Tech

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Elements of the Work Environment that Contribute to the Ability of Engineering Faculty to Manage Work-Life Tensions


Work-family polices are generally the centerpiece of institutional efforts to promote the success of women faculty in science and engineering. Institutions funded by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE Program, have been in the vanguard of the movement to transform institutional and departmental culture in order to recruit and retain more women and minorities as faculty in science and engineering. Among a broad portfolio of initiatives aimed at recognizing that faculty life extends beyond work performance, the 19 round one and two ADVANCE institutions have promoted such work-family policies as dual-career hiring, stopping or delaying the tenure clock for childbirth or adoption, on-campus childcare and lactation rooms, and the opportunity for temporary periods of part-time employment to deal with family crises, such as the terminal illness of a parent. The formalization of many work-life initiatives in colleges and universities in the U.S. is recent enough, however, that there has been little opportunity to provide empirical support for the link between “family-friendly” policies and overall faculty job satisfaction.

One way that ADVANCE institutions have promoted institutional change is through dissemination of findings from faculty work-life or climate questionnaires. The leadership team of the ADVANCE program at Virginia Tech distributed a campus-wide questionnaire in January 2005 to all instructional and research faculty. The questionnaire contained major sections with both attitudinal and behavioral questions about the university and departmental climate. Also included were sections about work-life issues, family characteristics, and the employment status of the spouse. A split-half reliability test on responses to the questionnaire revealed that the questionnaire has very strong reliability (.954).

Previous research not related to the ADVANCE projects has documented a significant positive relationship between overall job satisfaction and positive views about the “spillover” between work and non-work for both female and male faculty members1. Spillover refers to the attitudes, capabilities, energies, and obligations that are affected by competing family responsibilities2. Overall job satisfaction is linked to behavior, including productivity and both intent to leave3,4 and actual turnover5. Female faculty members are generally found to be less satisfied with all dimensions of their faculty roles6 and are significantly more likely than male faculty to depart from an institution after earning tenure5. While some turnover contributes to organizational vitality, satisfaction with the work environment can offset the loss of the most productive faculty, a group particularly prone to turnover5.

This paper presents findings from a statistical analysis of the impact of elements of the university and departmental climate and work-non-work satisfaction on the overall job satisfaction of faculty in engineering at a single round-two, ADVANCE institution. The paper builds on

Creamer, E., & Layne, M. (2007, June), Elements Of The Work Environment That Contribute To The Ability Of Engineering Faculty To Manage Work Life Tensions Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1571

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