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Gender Differences in Pathways to Faculty Career Satisfaction

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Heather Walling Doty University of Delaware

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Heather Doty is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware (UD). Dr. Doty teaches undergraduate courses in thermodynamics, statics, and dynamics, and conducts research on gender in the academic STEM workforce. She is co-PI on UD's NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant, which aims to recruit, retain, and advance women STEM faculty at UD. Dr. Doty is faculty advisor to UD's Women in Engineering Graduate Student steering committee and a past co-chair of UD's Women's Caucus.

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Robin Andreasen University of Delaware

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Robin O. Andreasen (Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison) is Associate Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science. She earned her PhD in philosophy and specializes in philosophy of science, philosophy of social science, and in science and policy. A race and gender scholar, Dr. Andreasen is research director and co-PI for UD’s ADVANCE-IT grant.

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Dandan Chen University of Delaware

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Dandan Chen is a doctoral student of Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics in the School of Education, University of Delaware, with research interest in school climate, measurement and STEM education.

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Women engineers are underrepresented in the U.S. workforce and at all levels in academia – undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral, and all faculty ranks. One strategy for increasing the number of women engineering students and professionals is to increase the number of women faculty who teach, advise, and mentor students. For this reason, programs like NSF ADVANCE devote resources to improve institutional climate with the goal of recruiting, retaining, and advancing to leadership women STEM faculty.

As part of an NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant (NSF HRD 1409472, 2014-2019), the University of Delaware (UD) initiated a biannual faculty climate survey in the spring of 2014. Because faculty satisfaction has been linked to retention and advancement, one goal of this survey is to better understand the relative importance of different aspects of faculty worklife on career satisfaction and potential gender differences therein.

Based on earlier research (Bilimoria, D., Perry, S.R., Liang, X. et al., J Technol Transfer (2006) 3:355), and on data from the UD faculty climate survey, we used path analysis to examine potential gender differences in pathways to career satisfaction. The variables that we explored were formal and informal mentoring, academic resources (e.g., lab space, research assistants), collegial support, effectiveness of the department chair, and transparency of policies and procedures (e.g., for promotion and tenure, family leave).

In this paper, we discuss the results of this work as well as how they inform our UD-ADVANCE grant activities. Our study indicates, for example, that women perceive the role of the department chair as more important to their career satisfaction than do men. We connect this result to the parts of our program that focus on chair mentoring and networking, with the goal of improving departmental micro-climates for women STEM faculty.

Doty, H. W., & Andreasen, R., & Chen, D. (2017, June), Gender Differences in Pathways to Faculty Career Satisfaction Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28399

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