The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to better understand how female mechanical engineering faculty members’ career experiences in academia affect their satisfaction. The research considered differences in satisfaction reported by female and male mechanical engineering faculty members in terms of departmental climate, nature of work, resource allocations, departmental policies/practices, and overall satisfaction.
The study compared the levels of satisfaction reported in survey data collected through the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey from 2005-2010. A subset of the survey participants was interviewed to gain nuanced descriptions of faculty member worklife.
This study identified the role of gendered divisions of labor, gendered divisions of allowed behavior, gendered symbols, and gendered interactions as reasons why female mechanical engineering faculty members are less satisfied with employment in academia than their male colleagues. Recommendations for how mechanical engineering leadership can improve the climate in the department include transparency in decision-making and encouraging senior faculty members to engage in constructive, collaborative research conversations with junior faculty members.