Faculty Work-Life Survey Data Report : Work-Life Issues

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Virginia Tech


Balancing work and family issues has captured a great deal of attention in higher education over the last several years. Both Academe (November-December 2004), the journal of the American Association of University Professors, and Change magazine (November-December 2005) have devoted entire issues to these topics. The American Council on Education, with the support of the Sloan Foundation, has also published an influential report (Agenda for Excellence: Creating Flexibility in Tenure-Track Faculty Careers), created panels at most major higher education association meetings, and held invitational conferences to encourage universities to adopt more flexible policies related to faculty careers. For all research universities, the critical connection is to be able to recruit and retain the best faculty talent from a doctoral pool that is far more diverse than it was a generation ago. And there is a growing body of research that tells us that work-life issues have an important impact on faculty productivity, satisfaction, and retention. For women scientists and engineers, balancing work and family emerged as the most significant issue they faced in a study by Sue Rosser, an influential figure in gender and science (Rosser, 2004).
Virginia Tech has been a participant in many of these national discussions. The AdvanceVT survey distributed to all teaching and research faculty in January 2005, and focus group discussions conducted in April 2005, provide a great deal of information about how Virginia Tech faculty members experience work-life balance issues. This report summarizes key findings from tenured and tenure track faculty at Virginia Tech about a range of work-life factors, including perceptions about the departmental and university climate, dual career issues, and balancing personal and family responsibilities. The report highlights implications of these issues for job satisfaction and intention to remain at Virginia Tech and attitudes about a number of new work-life initiatives, including policies to delay the tenure clock and dual-career hiring.