Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Political Science


Anna Zajicek

Committee Member

Valerie Hunt

Second Committee Member

Brinck Kerr

Third Committee Member

Michael Miller


Social sciences, Education, African-American, Faculty, Higher education, Intersectionality, Public policy, White faculty, Work-family policy


Gender and faculty career advancement have been examined with a focus on academic work environment, including faculty workloads, mentoring relationships, access to research networks, and work-life balance. Previous studies concerned with gender, employment, and care work only have considered child care. Additionally, the exploration of faculty and care work focused specifically on gender instead of examining the interaction of race and gender. To date, no study on academic work-life policies includes faculty perceptions of their importance and effectiveness nor has the faculty assessment of eldercare policy been examined in relation to career success.

Guided by an intersectional perspective, this study compares responses provided by four groups of faculty: African American women, African American men as well as white women and white men. Toward this end, I use data from the 2008 and 2009 Tenure-Track Faculty Job Satisfaction survey collected by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE). First, I examine faculty perceptions regarding the importance of family policies as related to career success, the effectiveness of family policies at the institution, and the level of satisfaction with work-life balance. Second, I examine the extent to which departmental and institutional support for care work affects the faculty member's overall satisfaction with the institution.

The findings indicate that there are significant differences in policy perceptions within the intersectionally defined faculty groups as well as with overall satisfaction with work-life balance. African American women overwhelmingly indicate that eldercare policy is important to career success; while white women are more concerned with the importance of childcare policy. Regarding effectiveness of work-life policies, with the exception of childcare policy, the faculty groups do not differ significantly. Significant group differences emerge in faculty assessment of childcare policy with the largest proportion of white women dissatisfied with its effectiveness on their campuses. Finally, African American men are the most satisfied with their work-life balance. Second, in contrast to my hypothesis, the analysis reveals institutional-level support for care work influences overall satisfaction with the institution more so than departmental support. Also, women are more satisfied than men, and being married has a negative effect on satisfaction.

The findings suggest care work still matters in relation to a faculty member's career advancement. Institutions should create clear guidelines regarding policy use related to caregiving activities. These guidelines should encourage both men and women to use these policies for activities not related to childcare but also for broader care issues. Creating an automatic "opt-in" policy could assist in transforming a culture that has historically had a bias in using family policy. Further, race and gender must be considered when constructing policies to address career balance concerns. Not all policies affect people the same way, and depending on what type of care, child or elder, the challenges will be unique to the Social location of the faculty member.