Previous research studies have indicated that academic workplaces that do not acknowledge the multidimensional lives of faculty constitute an unsupportive and unwelcoming environment especially for women faculty who undertake both an academic career and motherhood. In recent years, institutions of higher education have adopted and made available to their faculty dependent care policies that extend beyond the federally mandated Family Medical Leave Act of 1993. These policies include, among others, options that allow faculty members with dependents to elect to stop the tenure clock or to modify their workload (e.g., work part time and reduce course loads and service commitments) for a specified period of time in order to focus on caregiving responsibilities.
Although faculty job satisfaction has been a widely researched topic (e.g., August & Waltman, 2004; Hagedorn, 1996; Johnsrud & Rosser, 2002; Near & Sorcinelli, 1986; Rosser, 2004; Schuster & Finklestein, 2006), few if any studies have measured the impact of dependent care policies on faculty members' global job satisfaction. This study tested an empirical model to determine the factors, dependent care policies among others, that contribute to overall job satisfaction among tenured and tenure-track faculty at a large public land-grant university in the Midwest and investigated differences between men and women.
This study employed structural equation modeling (SEM) to test the model. Data were collected from Iowa State University (ISU) faculty in 2008 using the Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE) Faculty Satisfaction Survey. Participants for this study included 644 tenured or tenure-track faculty members who held the position of assistant, associate, or full professor at ISU.
Results were analyzed for all faculty, middle-aged faculty, senior faculty, and men and women. The results indicated that dependent care policies had a negligible direct effect on faculty job satisfaction; a strong and positive effect on academic resources; and a positive and moderate effect on relational support, which proved to be a statistically significant pathway across all samples tested.
The findings of this study provide valuable insight for educators and policy makers who are interested in factors that contribute to overall job satisfaction for female and male faculty members at a large research institution in the Midwest.