Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Ed Psychology and Research


Educational Research

Committee Chair

Corinna A Ethington

Committee Member

John C Smart

Committee Member

Yonghong Jade Xu

Committee Member

Gary L Donhardt


While years of effort to attract more women into higher education careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (collectively known as STEM disciplines) has shown some success, retaining women faculty once they are hired has been much less successful. Their retention is essential in order to maintain diversity among faculty. Understanding the complex factors affecting faculty career satisfaction and, ultimately, their retention at a particular institution and in higher education is needed to guide policies and practices as academic instituions strive to retain highly qualified professors and maintain diversity at all ranks. This study explored salient factors related to faculty career satisfaction in STEM disciplines.Data from 2000 STEM faculty at research and doctoral-granting universities were analyzed using path analysis. The results indicated that the factors with the greatest effects on career satisfaction were salary satisfaction (not actual salary) and workload satisfaction. Overall satisfaction with various aspects on one's nature of work and job equity led to greater overall career satisfaction. Women were less likely than men to be satisfied with the workload or to agree that women are treated fairly, and parents were less likely than non-parents to be satisfied with their workload or with their salary. Additionally, faculty who took more flexible career paths (i.e., allowing for later entry into academe or interruptions for family caretaking) were indirectly more satisfied with their careers than faculty who followed a tradiational career trajectory. The implications from these results support the notion that for women, especially women with children, who struggle to balance work and family, the ability to pursue a flexible career path leads to greater career satisfaction, and ultimately greater retention of women faculty in higher ranks.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.