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Graduate Students’ Perceptions of Work and Family: Gender and Program Comparisons.  Colleen Pagnan and Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth
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Graduate Students’ Perceptions of Work and Family: Gender and Program Comparisons. Colleen Pagnan and Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth

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Recent political debates have suggested that the United States is on the verge of a crisis and their position as a leader in producing talented and ambitious individuals in technical professions, such ...

Recent political debates have suggested that the United States is on the verge of a crisis and their position as a leader in producing talented and ambitious individuals in technical professions, such as engineering, is in jeopardy. A National Academy of Sciences 2006 report stated, “the United States can no longer afford the underperformance of our academic institutions in attracting the best and brightest minds to the science and engineering enterprise. Nor can it afford to devalue the contributions of some members of that workforce through gender inequities and discrimination” (2006).

Recent years have seen the movement of women into male-predominated programs and the movement of some programs toward gender-neutral compositions. However, a study of undergraduate college women revealed that women in male-predominated programs were more likely than those in female-predominated programs to report thinking about changing their major (Steele, James, & Bartnett, 2002) indicating that there is a problem in retaining these women recruited into male-predominated programs.

This study assessed perceptions of family supportiveness in academic program and anticipated career, anticipated career barriers, gender ideology and strategies for combining career and family among 181 graduate students from male-predominated, female-predominated, and gender-neutral programs at 11 research-extensive universities in the United States. Gender and program comparisons in perceptions of family supportiveness and anticipated career barriers were examined.
Unexpectedly, students in female-predominated programs perceived their programs and future careers to be less supportive of families than students in other programs. Women also anticipated more barriers to their chosen careers than men, with a significant gender by program interaction with women in male-predominated programs anticipating the most severe career barriers. While an egalitarian gender ideology was found to be a significant predictor of career scaling back for women it was not associated with career scaling back for men.

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  • Gender Differences still present in academic programs
  • Significant at .05 but with only race as a control…none of the other controls are significant and in fact it appears that once I drop out havechild as a marginal control gender is now significant so it appears that children cause this gendered effect

Graduate Students’ Perceptions of Work and Family: Gender and Program Comparisons.  Colleen Pagnan and Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth Graduate Students’ Perceptions of Work and Family: Gender and Program Comparisons. Colleen Pagnan and Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth Presentation Transcript

  • Perceptions of Anticipated Career Barriers & Family Supportiveness Among Graduate Students: The Place of ‘Family’ in Graduate Programs Colleen E. Pagnan & Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth Child Development and Family Studies Purdue University
  • Statement of the Problem
    • United States is on the verge of crisis and losing their position as a leader in producing talented and ambitious individuals.
      • “ The United States can no longer afford the underperformance of our academic institutions in attracting the best and brightest minds to the science and engineering enterprise. Nor can it afford to devalue the contributions of some members of that workforce through gender inequalities and discrimination” (National Academies of Science, 2006, p.5).
  • Gender Imbalances In Academic Programs
    • Men and women enter and complete graduate degrees at roughly equal rates 65% men, 63% women (Nevill & Chen, 2007)
      • Females in male-predominated programs are more likely to report thinking about changing their major (Steele, James & Barnett, 2002).
      • Women still disproportionately in female-predominated areas and traditionally female occupations (Battle & Wigfield, 2003; Hoffer, 2005; U.S. Department of Education, 2006).
      • Women are lost in the sciences at every educational transition (National Academy of Sciences, 2006)
  • Guiding Theories
    • Life Course Perspective
      • Career and Child Bearing transitions occur close together and/or simultaneously
      • These two trajectories are embedded within each other
      • Structural Lag
      • Agency – individuals construct and react to constraints and opportunities in their environment
  • Guiding Theories
    • Gender Theory
      • Gender is constructed through interactions
      • Gender ideology comprises a variety of attitudes and values associated with differing roles and social positions
  • Research Questions
    • How do perceptions of family supportiveness and barriers to anticipated occupations vary by gender and academic program?
    • What factors shape anticipated strategies for blending career and family goals?
  • Conceptual Model Family Supportiveness Anticipated Career Barriers Gender Program Gender Program
    • Scaling Back Strategies
    • Family Scaling Back
    • Career Scaling Back
    Gender Ideology
  • Method
    • Survey of graduate students, administered via the web
      • Originally 5 universities in the Midwest
      • Final sample 9 Research-Extensive Universities across the United States
        • 3 programs: engineering, veterinary medicine, business/management
          • Male-predominated, female-predominated, gender-neutral
  • Participants (N=181) Chemical Engineering (n=66) Business/Management (n=40) Veterinary Medicine (n=75) Total Gender Male Female 44 22 27 13 9 66 80 101 Mean Age 26 28 27 Race White Non-White 41 25 25 15 67 8 133 48 Marital Status Single Committed Reln Married 29 14 23 12 5 23 25 14 36 66 33 82 Parent Status Have Children No Children 7 59 10 30 11 64 28 123
  • Measures
    • Gender Ideology – GSS/ISSP
    • Perceived Career Barriers (Swanson & Tokar, 1996)
      • 4 subscales: Child Career Conflict, Multiple Career Conflict, Discouraged from Nontraditional Careers and Sex Discrimination
    • Plans to Balance Career & Family (Adapted from Granrose, 1985 & GSS)
    • Perceptions of Family Supportiveness in Academic Program (Kossek, Colquitt & Noe, 2001)
    • Perceptions of Family Supportiveness in Anticipated Occupation (Kossek, Colquitt & Noe, 2001)
  • Results
    • Perceptions of Family Supportiveness
      • ANCOVA
        • Perceived Family Supportiveness Academic Program
          • No main effects of gender
          • Marginal effects of program
          • No gender*program interaction
        • Perceived Family Supportiveness Anticipated Career
          • No main effect of gender
          • Main effect of program
          • No gender*program interaction
  • Perceptions of Family Supportiveness - Career
  • Results
    • Number of Anticipated Career Barriers
      • Main effect of Gender :
        • Women anticipated more barriers ( M = 12.98, SE = .76) than men ( M = 9.64, SE = .85)
      • No Main Effect of Program
      • Marginal Gender*Program
        • Women in male-predominated programs anticipated almost twice as many barriers as men in male-predominated programs. Differences were also found between men in male-predominated programs and women in female-predominated programs, with women anticipating more barriers than men.
  • Number of Anticipated Career Barriers
  • Results
    • Severity of Anticipated Career Barriers
      • Main Effect of Gender:
        • Women anticipated greater barrier severity ( M = 3.94, SD = .94) than men ( M = 3.50, SD = .90).
      • No Main Effect of Program
      • Significant Gender*Program Interaction:
        • Men in male-predominated programs anticipated experiencing less severe career barriers than women in male-predominated programs and women in female-predominated programs .
  • Severity of Anticipated Career Barriers
  • Results
    • Gender ideology predicts career scaling back for women but not for men.
      • Women with more egalitarian gender ideologies reported using more career scaling back strategies than men with similar gender ideologies and women with less egalitarian gender ideologies
  • Results
  • Results
    • Family Scaling Back
      • Predictors: Family Supportiveness (Career and Program) and Barrier subscales
        • Being discouraged from nontraditional careers significantly associated with less family scaling back
        • Anticipation of career and child conflict significantly associated with more family scaling back
        • Trend for family supportiveness in academic program associated with more family scaling back
  • Results
    • Career Scaling Back Strategies
      • Predictors: Family Supportiveness (Career and Family), Barrier subscales
        • Model not significant
          • Experiences of multiple role conflict were significantly associated with more career scaling back
  • Limitations
    • Low response rate/sample issues
      • Predominately white
      • Not representative – volunteer bias
  • Discussion
    • Respondents in female-predominated programs perceived the least family supportiveness
      • Only 56.7% of veterinarians are female (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008), considerably lower than the 80% in graduate programs
  • Discussion
    • Women anticipated more numerous and more severe barriers to their chosen careers than men, especially in male-predominated programs
      • Indicates the pervasive nature of gendered caregiving behaviors and expectations
  • Directions for Future Research
    • Gender Ideology may differ by program
    • Larger Sample Size
    • Examine differences in barriers between men and women, as well as between programs
    • Examine other program characteristics such as gender composition of faculty, program requirements, criteria and timing for success/advancement
  • Questions?
    • [email_address]