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Work-Life Balance Challenge

Grant Moves Forward Following Faculty Survey

Oct. 7, 2013

A campus climate survey of full-time faculty members has found the biggest challenge, particularly for female faculty members, is finding the balance between the demands of career and family life.

"More than 51 percent of respondents to this survey said they are caring for someone, like a dependent child or elderly parent," said Jennifer Faust, associate vice president for academic affairs and the lead on a two-year, National Science Foundation-funded effort to improve hiring, retention and promotion of female faculty members in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics-related (STEM) fields.

"While we found several things that were good about our campus, this is one of our areas of concern," said Faust.

Conducted by the Social Science Research Center in the spring and sent to all full-time, tenure-track and tenured faculty members, the survey asked questions dealing with: hiring, retention, tenure and promotion, as well as other issues related to the campus climate. More than 38 percent of those who received the survey responded.

Among the findings:

  • 74.6 percent of respondents strongly agreed that their interactions with the search committee leading to their hiring was positive; only slightly less agreed that their interactions with future colleagues were positive.
  • 89.6 percent agreed that they had received feedback on their progress in tenure and promotion, with 79.6 indicating they feel supported in their advancement and 76.3 percent stating they are satisfied with the overall process.
  • In the category of department climate, 89 percent or more of respondents indicated they were treated with respect by colleagues, by their department chair, by students and by department staff.
  • 88.3 percent of female faculty members affirmed that the climate for women in their department "is good"; 68.6 percent reported that their department has actively recruited women faculty members; and 68.2 percent agreed that their department has made an effort to promote women into leadership positions.
  • Responses from faculty of color are along the same lines, with 86.7 reporting that department climate is good and 69.1 percent agreeing their department actively recruits underrepresented faculty.
  • With regard to overall career satisfaction, 31.7 percent reported being very satisfied, and 44 percent are somewhat satisfied. The factors contributing to this satisfaction include: geographic location of the campus, colleagues, teaching opportunities and climate of the department.
  • 43 percent of faculty members feel they do not have adequate resources to do their jobs, and a 48.2 percent of faculty members indicated "seriously" considering leaving CSUF.

The survey is just one of the things accomplished since receipt of the 2012 grant. In addition, Faust and her co-investigators, Susamma Barua, associate dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Dorota Huizinga, director of special projects at the CSUF Irvine Campus, have

  • commissioned researchers from Cal Poly Pomona who have interviewed tenured and probationary faculty members to identify potential obstacles to the recruitment, retention and promotion of female STEM faculty members. They also interviewed faculty members who left CSUF to determine what factors and obstacles led to their departure. The preliminary report will be presented to the President's Cabinet.
  • shared findings of their analysis and strategies at a campuswide faculty forum held Sept. 13.

Ongoing are analyses of STEM faculty hiring pools and practices, as well as salaries and promotions over the last seven years. The researchers also are working to standardize search procedures to ensure a more equitable, balanced and transparent search process that encourages more female applicants and assures their equal consideration for appointments.

Also in the works are leadership retreats with STEM deans and department chairs on strategies about equity issues in STEM faculty hiring, retention and promotion.

"We still have a way to go," said Faust. "With future funding, we hope to move the institution into a transformational stage."

Tags:  Academics & ResearchCampus Updates