Correlates of Work-Life Balance for Faculty Across Racial/Ethnic Groups

Abstract

Very few studies have examined issues of work-life balance among faculty of different racial/ethnic backgrounds. Utilizing data from Harvard University’s Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education project, this study examined predictors of work-life balance for 2953 faculty members from 69 institutions. The final sample consisted of 1059 (36%) Asian American faculty, 512 (17%) African American faculty, 359 (12%) Latina/o faculty, and 1023 (35%) White/Caucasian faculty. There were 1184 (40%) women faculty and 1769 (60%) men faculty. The predictors of worklife balance included faculty characteristics, departmental/institutional characteristics and support, and faculty satisfaction with work. While African American women faculty reported less work-life balance than African American men, the reverse was true for Latina/o faculty. In addition, White faculty who were single with no children were significantly less likely to report having work-life balance than their married counterparts with children. Faculty rank was a significant positive predictor of work-life balance for all faculty. Notably, the findings highlight the importance of department and institutional support for making personal/family obligations and an academic career compatible. Institutional support for making personal/family obligations and an academic career compatible was consistently the strongest positive predictor of perceived work-life balance for all faculty. In addition, satisfaction with time spent on research had positive associations with work-life balance for all faculty, highlighting how faculty from all racial/ethnic backgrounds value being able to spend enough time on their own research.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Work-life balance is on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree; 2 = somewhat disagree; 3 = neither agree nor disagree; 4 = somewhat agree; 5 = strongly agree).

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) for granting them access to the 2011–2012 COACHE dataset.

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Correspondence to Nida Denson.

Appendix: Descriptive Statistics of All Variables by Faculty Racial/Ethnic Group

Appendix: Descriptive Statistics of All Variables by Faculty Racial/Ethnic Group

Variable % Missing Asian American (N = 1059) African American (N = 512) Latina/o (N = 359) White/Caucasian (N = 1023)
Min Max M SD Min Max M SD Min Max M SD Min Max M SD
Outcome variable
 Faculty work-life balance 0 1.00 5.00 3.45 1.14 1.00 5.00 3.19 1.30 1.00 5.00 3.24 1.29 1.00 5.00 3.24 1.31
Faculty characteristics
 Female (vs. males) 0 .00 1.00 .34 .47 .00 1.00 .54 .50 .00 1.00 .48 .50 .00 1.00 .41 .49
 Single without children (vs. married with children) 0 .00 1.00 .13 .33 .00 1.00 .28 .45 .00 1.00 .18 .39 .00 1.00 .16 .37
 Single with children (vs. married with children) 0 .00 1.00 .02 .15 .00 1.00 .09 .29 .00 1.00 .07 .26 .00 1.00 .05 .21
 Married without children (vs. married with children) 0 .00 1.00 .22 .42 .00 1.00 .20 .40 .00 1.00 .26 .44 .00 1.00 .31 .46
 Rank 0 1.00 4.00 2.84 .83 1.00 4.00 2.83 .78 1.00 4.00 2.91 .79 1.00 4.00 3.16 .81
 Social sciences (vs. humanities) 0 .00 1.00 .09 .29 .00 1.00 .15 .36 .00 1.00 .12 .33 .00 1.00 .14 .35
 Physical sciences (vs. humanities) 0 .00 1.00 .06 .24 .00 1.00 .02 .15 .00 1.00 .06 .23 .00 1.00 .08 .26
 Biological sciences (vs. humanities) 0 .00 1.00 .05 .22 .00 1.00 .04 .19 .00 1.00 .05 .22 .00 1.00 .04 .20
 Visual and performing arts (vs. humanities) 0 .00 1.00 .02 .14 .00 1.00 .06 .23 .00 1.00 .07 .25 .00 1.00 .06 .25
 Engineering/comp sci/math/stats (vs. humanities) 0 .00 1.00 .26 .44 .00 1.00 .09 .28 .00 1.00 .10 .29 .00 1.00 .12 .32
 Health and human ecology (vs. Humanities) 0 .00 1.00 .05 .22 .00 1.00 .04 .20 .00 1.00 .04 .19 .00 1.00 .04 .20
 Agriculture/nat res/env sci (vs. humanities) 0 .00 1.00 .04 .20 .00 1.00 .02 .15 .00 1.00 .04 .21 .00 1.00 .05 .23
 Business (vs. humanities) 0 .00 1.00 .10 .30 .00 1.00 .07 .26 .00 1.00 .04 .20 .00 1.00 .05 .22
 Education (vs. humanities) 0 .00 1.00 .03 .17 .00 1.00 .16 .36 .00 1.00 .05 .22 .00 1.00 .07 .26
 Medical schools and health professions (vs. humanities) 0 .00 1.00 .19 .39 .00 1.00 .14 .35 .00 1.00 .11 .32 .00 1.00 .15 .36
 Other professions (vs. humanities) 0 .00 1.00 .03 .17 .00 1.00 .09 .28 .00 1.00 .05 .22 .00 1.00 .04 .20
Departmental characteristics and support
 Collegial and supportive colleagues 7 1.00 5.00 3.83 1.00 1.00 5.00 3.91 1.06 1.00 5.00 3.80 1.08 1.00 5.00 3.93 1.08
 Mentoring from someone in your department 18 1.00 5.00 3.60 1.09 1.00 5.00 3.62 1.17 1.00 5.00 3.58 1.21 1.00 5.00 3.51 1.12
 Departmental colleagues do what they can to make personal/family obligations and an academic career compatible 14 1.00 5.00 3.59 1.08 1.00 5.00 3.60 1.14 1.00 5.00 3.57 1.19 1.00 5.00 3.68 1.13
Institutional characteristics and support
 Private (vs. public) 0 .00 1.00 .23 .42 .00 1.00 .15 .36 .00 1.00 .21 .41 .00 1.00 .17 .37
 Very high and high research university (vs. all others) 0 .00 1.00 .68 .47 .00 1.00 .45 .50 .00 1.00 .53 .50 .00 1.00 .56 .50
 My institution does what it can to make personal/family obligations and an academic career compatible 19 1.00 5.00 3.12 1.14 1.00 5.00 2.92 1.24 1.00 5.00 2.85 1.32 1.00 5.00 2.92 1.22
Satisfaction with work
 Satisfaction with time spent on teaching 2 1.00 5.00 3.79 .93 1.00 5.00 3.87 .99 1.00 5.00 3.91 .92 1.00 5.00 3.92 .95
 Satisfaction with time spent on research 1 1.00 5.00 3.60 1.10 1.00 5.00 3.12 1.18 1.00 5.00 3.34 1.25 1.00 5.00 3.27 1.19
 Satisfaction with time spent on service 2 1.00 5.00 3.52 .96 1.00 5.00 3.58 1.00 1.00 5.00 3.38 1.07 1.00 5.00 3.36 1.04
 Satisfaction with time spent on outreach 23 1.00 5.00 3.51 .77 1.00 5.00 3.53 .86 1.00 5.00 3.45 .83 1.00 5.00 3.54 .83
 Satisfaction with time spent on administrative tasks 10 1.00 5.00 3.20 .92 1.00 5.00 3.16 .98 1.00 5.00 2.97 1.03 1.00 5.00 2.90 1.04
 General satisfaction with institution and department 12 1.00 5.00 3.59 .98 1.00 5.00 3.70 .98 1.00 5.00 3.68 1.02 1.00 5.00 3.77 1.01

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Denson, N., Szelényi, K. & Bresonis, K. Correlates of Work-Life Balance for Faculty Across Racial/Ethnic Groups. Res High Educ 59, 226–247 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-017-9464-0

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Keywords

  • Faculty
  • Work-life balance
  • Race
  • Faculty of color