June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Educational Research and Methods
24.1200.1 - 24.1200.17
Cluster Analysis of Family-Related Benefits Policies across U.S. Academic InstitutionsAlthough the underrepresentation of women in science and engineering tenure-track facultypositions is often linked to the conflict between childcare responsibilities and the normativeacademic tenure-track pathway, previous studies have tended to focus on individual life choices,rather than the effects of institutional-level policies and structure. More recent research onwork/life policies in higher education have pushed our understanding of how organizationalstructure and political climates at the department and institution levels influence the ability offaculty members to integrate career and life responsibilities. Many postsecondary institutionsoffer more generous work/life benefits than required by the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act(FMLA), which provides employees with 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for family andmedical reasons per year if the employee has worked for the employer at least 12 months. Thetypes of family-related benefits offered, however, vary greatly across postsecondary institutionsin the United States. Using cluster analysis, this study identifies the patterns of availability ofparental leave and childcare benefits across U.S. academic institutions by grouping institutionsinto clusters of similar institutions. By so doing, the paper highlights the rates at which differenttypes of institutions adopted family-friendly policies since the FMLA.Cluster analysis is a technique for grouping a collection of cases, such as institutions, by anumber of attributes or variables. It is used across many fields including education, engineering,life, social, and physical sciences as an exploratory or data mining technique. This study appliesa k-means cluster analysis, a well established technique previously used in engineering educationresearch, to identify patterns in types of benefits policies offered by institutional characteristicsor profiles. The characteristics examined include student demographics and enrollment size,faculty size, research expenditures, and instructional expenditures. The data come from theNational Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF) Institution survey conducted by the NationalCenter for Education Statistics with response rates exceeding 86%. The nationally representative1993 and 2004 samples include 974 and 1,080 public and private not-for-profit institutions thatconfer associates, bachelors, or advanced degrees, respectively.Preliminary results with six clusters indicate that doctoral research institutions with the highestaverage instructional and research expenditures are more likely to offer a greater number offamily-related benefits to both part-time and full-time faculty compared to associates, bachelorsor masters institutions. These doctoral institutions also have the largest average studentenrollment and a relatively more diverse student population. Ongoing work includes identifyingthe rates of adoption of benefits policies following the FMLA. By analyzing both 1993 and 2004,changes in the overall profiles of institutions with different policy arrangements may also berevealed. Research findings will provide a national perspective of academic institutions’ effortsto facilitate work-life integration among faculty to help administrators, policy makers, and otherstakeholders shape educational policy.
Schimpf, C. T., & Main, J. B. (2014, June), The Distribution of Family-Friendly Benefits Policies across Higher Education Institutions: A Cluster Analysis Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/23133
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