Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


Balancing Faculty Careers and Family Work: Tenure-Track Women’s Perceptions of and Experiences with Work/Family Issues and Their Relationships to Job Satisfaction

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Terry Rentner (Advisor)


This study investigates approximately 200 women tenure-track faculty members’ experiences with and perceptions of issues surrounding work and family issues in higher education at public comprehensive institutions in the Midwest. This study identified what women tenure-track faculty members at comprehensive universities who self-identify as caretakers perceive as normative experiences and expectations regarding work and family and the extent to which these perceptions differ from self-reported behaviors. In addition, the results reveal the extent to which women faculty members believe they experience cognitive dissonance and/or feelings of alienation regarding their understandings of work and family norms at their comprehensive institutions of higher education. Finally, the findings illustrate how women’s experiences with balancing work and family in higher education relate to elements of job satisfaction. Specifically, the less comfortable women faculty caretakers are with family talk at work in general, the less satisfied they are with their role as faculty member overall, the less satisfied they are institutional support to balance work and family, and the less satisfied they are with job security and potential for promotion. Each of the six hypotheses related to social norms theory revealed that women faculty believe their experiences with balancing work and family in higher education represent the minority of women faculty experiences, when in reality, their experiences are actually representative of the majority of self-reported women’s experiences with balancing work and family.