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Beryl Lieff Benderly

Dads on the Tenure Track Feel Work-Family Conflict, Too.

The literature addressing the conflicts that women face trying to build academic careers and raise families is vast and has inspired a wide range of policies aimed at making faculty life more “family friendly.”  But what about tenure-seeking dads with young kids?  How do they balance the needs of family and career?

“Research on male academics with young children is limited,” write Richard Reddick and co-authors from the University of Texas-Austin in the current issue of the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity.  Turns out that fathers, too — or at least those “trying to play an active, meaningful role” in their kids’ lives while also striving to impress the tenure committee — also feel “pervasive conflict and strain,” says a feature article from the University of Texas that describes Reddick and colleagues’ study of young faculty fathers.
Some of the ways that faculty fathers deal with these stresses will sound familiar to their female counterparts: “overextending themselves in work and family responsibilities” and “significant time management,” according to the journal article. But, just as men and women often express problems such as depression differently, their ways of dealing with career-family conflicts may also differ.  Men, for example, appear to share less about their family issues with colleagues, and limit such discussions to fellow faculty dads of young kids, according to the feature piece.
The “progressive” fathers whom the researchers studied believe in equal sharing of home responsibilities and feel misunderstood in the workplace, the article continues. Adding to their stress is the fact that they appear to have little awareness of and make little use of university policies or services intended to help ease the conflict between home and work.