Research in Higher Education

, Volume 53, Issue 7, pp 782–802

The Ideal Worker or the Ideal Father: Organizational Structures and Culture in the Gendered University


DOI: 10.1007/s11162-012-9256-5

Cite this article as:
Sallee, M.W. Res High Educ (2012) 53: 782. doi:10.1007/s11162-012-9256-5


While literature has focused on the ways in which organizational structures exclude women from the workplace, this article suggests that the inverse is also true: organizational structures and culture prevent men from being involved in the home. Using theories of gendered organizations as a guide, this article draws on interviews with 70 faculty fathers at four research universities to explore the tension that many men feel navigating their responsibilities in the home while simultaneously aiming to fulfill the norms of the ideal worker, which holds that employees are always available to perform work and have few responsibilities in the home. Data suggest that institutions and those within them penalize men who appear too committed to their families. Some participants crafted identities for themselves that separated their roles as professor and father while others struggled to reconcile their two roles. In short, institutional structures and culture play a critical role in shaping faculty identity, both on and off-campus.


Faculty Fatherhood Organizational culture Ideal worker Gender norms 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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