Most full-time faculty members are satisfied with their roles and are more likely to feel so when they believe they have greater environmental support, according to “The Working Environment Matters: Faculty Member Job Satisfaction by Institution Type,” a report from the TIAA Institute.
The report examines faculty job satisfaction at various institutions and looks at how gender, race, age, and other personal factors meld with faculty expectations, experiences, and perceptions of the work environment.
Lower faculty job satisfaction can negatively impact attitudes, which in turn can affect student learning and overall institutional success, according to the report.
Six factors contribute to faculty job satisfaction pertaining to working environments and were used during analysis: perceived effectiveness of one’s department chair, feelings of fit in department/working as a team, perceived communication and support of dean/division chair, balance of work roles, health and retirement benefits, and advising and administrative tasks.
The report details a number of findings based on data and personal interviews, outlined by author Karen Webber, associate professor of higher education in The Institute of Higher Education at The University of Georgia.
1. Some faculty do report low job satisfaction, and some said they would consider leaving the profession—but most full-time faculty seem satisfied with their work.
2. Women in research universities are significantly more likely to report low overall satisfaction than their female peers in baccalaureate colleges.
3. Instructors in research universities are more likely to report low satisfaction with their department than peers in baccalaureate institutions.
4. Women report lower salaries than men, but not lower overall job satisfaction.
5. Faculty members at private institutions are more likely to report higher overall institutional satisfaction than peers at public institutions.
6. Except for those at baccalaureate colleges, male respondents are significantly more likely to report lower institutional satisfaction than female peers.
7. Race does not contribute to institutional satisfaction for those in master’s and research institutions, but all minority respondents at baccalaureate institutions have greater odds of reporting dissatisfaction compared to white peers.
8. In research institutions, those with a salary between $90,000 and $120,000 are more likely to be dissatisfied than peers who earned more than $120,000; in doctoral institutions; those who earn less than $45,000 were more likely to be dissatisfied than peers who earn more than $120,000; and in baccalaureate institutions, those with a salary between $45,000 and $90,000 are more likely to be dissatisfied than peers earning more than $120,000.
9. STEM faculty in doctoral institutions are more likely to be dissatisfied than non-STEM peers.
10. Although it was not evidenced strongly in the survey data, a few women interviewees spoke passionately about the need for greater family-friendly policies. Several interviewees (both men and women) spoke about the added challenge of having children while on the tenure track.